Daily Agenda: Geopolitics Overshadows Policy

Rash of attacks in U.S. as UN convenes in New York; Merkel dealt a blow in Berlin election; Aussie exchange shuts down, GM may face strike.


A new week featuring much-anticipated policy announcements by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan kicks off today in the shadow of possible terrorist acts in the U.S. and other geopolitical disruptions. Fresh fighting in Libya, centered around the primary eastern oil-exporting ports, helped crude prices find a footing with front-month futures for Brent grade rebounding by more than 1 percent to more than $46 per barrel. In New York, West Texas Intermediate Grade futures contracts also rose. With President Barack Obama scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly today, increased geopolitical volatility may well weigh on investors’ minds. Despite security concerns, equities rose in aggregate in early trading, with the MSCI all-country index rising modestly.

Terror concerns heightened. A spate of violence dominated U.S. news this past weekend as a bomb in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood wounded dozens Saturday evening and a second explosive device was located before detonating. Many New Yorkers’ commutes this morning were punctuated with the jolt of a smartphone emergency alert as authorities notified users to be on the lookout for Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old suspected in the Saturday attacks. In addition, federal authorities are investigating a series of stabbings at a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota and pipe bombs near the route of a charity race in New Jersey. Overnight, a package detonated in an Elizabeth, N.J. train station as a robot examined it. Security in New York and the surrounding region has been increased in response, just as the UN General Assembly convenes.

Merkel’s party dealt a blow. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party fared poorly in an election in Berlin on Sunday, the worst showing since the party became a dominant force in German politics after World War II. While the Christian Democrats and its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, secured the top results in the race, they failed to capture the majority required to rule the capital without the support of additional parties. Merkel and her colleagues have faced growing opposition over the controversial acceptance of refugees fleeing Syria.

Technical glitch delays opening Down Under. On Monday morning, a technical failure forced a delayed opening for Australia’s primary equity market. ASX began trading 90 minutes late and halted transactions later in the day. Exchange officials said that the underlying issue related to hardware used to maintain the bourse’s pricing database.

GM faces Canadian strike. With a Monday evening contract deadline looming in Canada, General Motors faces the possibility of a strike at its production facilities in Ontario. Jerry Dias, president of the auto workers’ union Unifor, on Sunday told media outlets that the car maker had failed to meet labor demands and that a walkout was possible. The facilities in question produce roughly 15 percent of GM engines for cars sold in North America.