U.S. Dollar Lower As Huawei Charges Threaten Trade Talks

Curious time for charges against Huawei

We’re seeing mixed trade in Europe on Tuesday, with U.S. futures marginally lower as trade talks with China face a potential setback, while the U.K. prepares to vote on a raft of amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit ‘Plan B’.

Trade talks between the U.S. and China appeared to be going rather well until last week when speculation started circling that a preparatory meeting prior to Vice Premier Liu He’s visit this week had been cancelled. While this was denied by White House chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow, it was followed by claims that the two sides are very far from a deal. Now, another spanner has been thrown in the works, with the U.S. filing numerous charges against Chinese telecom giant Huawei (SZ:002502).

Huawei has long been a target of the U.S. so these charges aren’t necessarily surprising but the timing of them is curious. For now, it threatens to ratchet up tensions between the world’s two largest economies, as they work towards a deal that prevents further tariffs and ideally removes those already imposed. Only time will tell whether the charges damage negotiations or serve as a tool to progress the talks.

GBP pares gains ahead of parliament Brexit votes

In the U.K., parliament convenes today to discuss and vote on amendments to Theresa May’s Plan B, with a variety of options being considered by the speaker including those that make a no-deal Brexit less likely. It’s difficult to say whether the U.K. will be in a better or even a clearer position by the end of the day, with the amendment that has May’s support, tabled by MP Graham Brady, being one that simply forces her to back to Brussels to push for changes to the backstop.

This has not been a successful tactic in the past, with the EU claiming it has no desire to reopen the withdrawal agreement, which is perhaps why May favors it as it ultimately protects her deal. May’s recent record in parliament isn’t great, with her only victory of note being a marginal win following the vote of no confidence in her government. Perhaps her backing is the poisoned chalice that Graham Brady and his fellow Brexiteers would have rather done without.

The pound has been paring its gains in recent days in anticipation of the vote, having previously made strong gains. The fading prospects of no deal as MPs rallied in opposition to it has clearly benefited the currency, lifting it to more than three month highs against the dollar and looking more than capable of building on this. We’ve seen some profit taking ahead of the vote around 1.32 but 1.33 marks a real test for the pair, having provided significant resistance throughout the second half of last year.

GBP/USD Daily Chart

GBP/USD Daily Chart

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