As the business week winds down, equity investors around the world appear to have embraced a glass-half-full approach. Most major indexes in Europe and Asia rose over the week, and emerging-markets stocks also had a solid showing, with the MSCI benchmark up by nearly 1.5 percent. For now, optimism over central bank policy appears to continue to support equities despite macroeconomic and political jitters.
US employment picture improves. The monthly employment report from the US Department of Labor for July indicated that the job market continues to be resilient with a payroll increase of 255,000 and a headline unemployment that remained stable at 4.9 percent. The increase in payrolls exceeded consensus economist forecasts significantly. Critically, average wages rose by 0.3 percent versus the prior month. Futures markets for treasuries sold off in response as the Fed mulls a possible rate hike in September. Separately, trade data released today by the Commerce Department revealed a nearly $45 billion deficit for May, the highest since August 2015.
Royal Bank of Scotland announces major writedowns. Royal Bank of Scotland Group today announced second-quarter financial results that included a loss of more than $1.4 billion for the period. The losses were significantly steeper than consensus analyst estimates, largely stemming from provisions for anticipated legal sentiments. Year-to-date, the banks stock has declined by more than 35 percent making it the poorest-performing primary U.K. lender.
Clinton leads Trump in presidential race. Surveys released by Franklin & Marshall College, McClatchy-Marist, NBC News, CNN and others in recent days show Democrat and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton with a significant lead over the Republican candidate, real estate mogul Donald Trump, in the U.S. presidential election race. U.K. gambling firm Ladbrokes reduced the published odds of Trump losing his partys nomination to 6-to-1, though some continue to wager that a GOP revolt will occur after more controversial statements by the nominee.
Amazon unveils its first plane. Images emerged yesterday of the first Atlas Air plane leased by Amazon as part of a dedicated delivery fleet. Amazon acquired warrants earlier this year to acquire up to 30 percent of the Purchase, New Yorkbased transportation company. Separately in a regulatory filing yesterday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos revealed a sale of shares in the company worth more than $750 million.