The week in investor relations: US and China plan to cancel tariffs, traders push for shorter working hours and SoftBank says sorry
– The US and China plan to start cancelling the tariffs they have imposed on each other, said the Chinese commerce ministry, according to Reuters. To reach a ‘phase one’ deal, the two sides must simultaneously cancel some of the tariffs, said Gao Feng, a ministry spokesperson. The US currently has a new round of tariffs planned for December 15 of around $150 bn worth of Chinese goods, but these are expected to be scrapped if a trade deal is reached.
– Traders in the UK and Europe are pushing for shorter working hours to improve their work-life balance, reported the BBC. The Association for Financial Markets in Europe and the UK’s Investment Association are calling for new trading hours of 9.00 am to 4.00 pm, instead of the current 8.00 am to 4.30 pm. Such a move would bring European working hours for traders closer to the US (where the market is open for six and a half hours) and Asia (six hours).
– The chief executive of SoftBank has apologized to investors for his investment in WeWork, the co-working company, which led to a $4.6 bn writedown, reports The New York Times (paywall). Masayoshi Son, who has run SoftBank for almost 40 years, said he would continue to make big bets on tech start-ups in the future. ‘In the case of WeWork, I made a mistake. I won’t make any excuses. It was a very harsh lesson,’ he said.
– The Bank of England (BoE) has decided to leave interest rates at 0.75 percent following the meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee, reported CNBC. The decision was not unanimous, however, with two members of the nine-person committee voting for a cut in rates. ‘With the risk of a no-deal Brexit falling recently, we expect the uncertainty facing households and businesses to fall. We also expect global growth to recover gradually,’ said the BoE in its Monetary Policy Report.
– The Moscow Stock Exchange (Moex) Index hit another record high this week and passed the 3,000-point mark for the first time, reported The Moscow Times. This year has witnessed a string of record highs on the Moex and overall the market is up more than 30 percent over 12 months. A range of factors are driving the market higher, such as interest rate cuts, higher oil prices and a calming of the US-China trade war. The Russian market also offers investors an enticing combination of growth and income.
– Mutual funds continue to prove popular among US households, reported the Financial Times (paywall). The number of people owning at least one mutual fund grew from 75.2 mn in 1999 to 102 mn in 2019, according to the newspaper, citing data from the Investment Company Institute (ICI). This popularity extends across generations. ‘Generation Z and Millennial households typically purchase mutual funds through employer retirement plans. This highlights the critical role these plans play in introducing younger generations to fund investing,’ said Sarah Holden, a senior research director at ICI, in the article.