Ahead of his call with the Chinese trade delegation today, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer formalized the tariff rate from 10% to 15% on $135 billion of the $300 billion of taxed goods. The call will almost certainly focus on this last-minute hike on the tariffs set to go into effect on Sunday. Whether this move is a bluff remains to be seen, but it stands in stark contrast to recent Chinese calls for "calm attitude" and negotiation.
Amid chaotic protests where the first round of live ammunition was fired--a warning shot into the air--three protest organizers have been arrested, including the leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations. Former Hong Kong National Party leader Andy Chan, along with student protest organizer Agnes Chow and unofficial leader Joshua Wong were arrested yesterday.
Concurrently, Wall Street Journal reporter Chun Han Wong had his visa extension rejected and press credentials denied, effectively expelling him from the country. Wong has covered Chinese president Xi Jinping extensively, including a recent story on Xi's cousin, who has been accused of money laundering and links to organized crime.
Personal spending data was released this morning, and the reading was higher than forecast at 0.6%. PCE data was as expected and did not move stock futures. Stocks surged at the open, but have given back some gains. The DJIA is up half a percent at 26,495, the NASDAQ broke back through 8,000 and is up 0.36%, and the S&P 500 is up almost half a percent to 2,938.
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