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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Wednesday

Investing.com -- U.S. trade officials try to walk back Trump's 'off-the-cuff' comments, but Beijing isn't budging its position, and it's once again sore at what it sees as U.S. meddling in its affairs. Google's founders step back from running its parent company Alphabet . The ISM's non-manufacturing survey may undo some of the damage to sentiment made by the manufacturing survey on Monday, and the Bank of Canada is likely to hold off from joining the race to the bottom on interest rates - for now at least. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, 4th December.

1. Trade cut-and-thrust gets cuttier and thrustier

A day after President Donald Trump sent stock markets spinning and haven assets soaring by saying there may be no trade deal with China until after next year’s election, the damage limitation exercise began, with both The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg citing ‘sources familiar with the matter’ as talking up the likelihood of a deal.

But those who believe actions speak louder than (unattributed) words will point to the fact that the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed another bill raising scrutiny of China’s domestic human rights record, the Uighur Act of 2019. As with a similar bill on Hong Kong, the Uighur Act embeds an intractable political issue in the trade talks process.

Beijing reacted angrily to the bill, and China’s foreign ministry went so far as to downplay the Bloomberg story, insisting that “equality” must be at the heart of a ‘phase-1’ deal – its way of saying it wants all tariffs imposed since 2018 rescinded. That directly contradicted Trump’s comments on Tuesday that phase-1 “cannot be an even deal.”

2. Google's founders step down

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page said they will step down from executive roles at the online platform’s parent company Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), handing full control to CEO Sundar Pichai. They’ll still be on Alphabet’s board and will have effective control over company decisions, under Alphabet’s two-tier share structure.

The move comes as Google’s business faces increasingly intense regulatory scrutiny, not just for its market power and possible abuse thereof, but also for the corporate culture that the founders have presided over.

In a farewell email, the two reportedly said they would continue to be in regular contact with Pichai.

The company’s shares have risen 24% so far this year, and were little changed in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

3. Stocks set for a modest bounce

U.S. stock markets are on course to recoup a little less than half of their Tuesday losses when they open later, as the reassurances from western media get more resonance than the angrier tones coming out of Beijing.

By 6:15 AM ET, Dow futures were up 125 points or 0.5%, while S&P 500 futures were up 0.4% and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.6%.

Software companies Salesforce and Workday both beat expectations in their earnings reports after the closing bell on Tuesday but that didn’t stop either from falling in after-hours trading. Peloton (NASDAQ:PTON), too, will be under the spotlight after a negative reaction to an ad perceived as sexist sent the stock down over 9% on Tuesday. It’s still up by around one-third since listing in September.

4. ISM services survey, ADP's payrolls report due

After a weaker-than-expected manufacturing survey at the start of the week, the Institute of Supply Management releases its non-manufacturing purchasing manager index at 10 AM ET, quarter of an hour after IHS Markit releases its services PMI.

IHS Markit’s surveys from the rest of the world were a mixed bag overnight, with the Chinese PMI rising strongly while the euro zone PMI modestly beat expectations, but only by enough to keep the composite PMI reading stable at 50.6.

Before the PMIs, there will also be ADP’s monthly update on private payrolls at 8:15 AM ET, where job gains of 140,000 are expected for November, up from 125,000 in October.

Elsewhere, the Bank of Canada is expected to keep interest rates unchanged at its regular policy meeting.

5. Crude rebounds on API stocks, Iraq chatter

Crude oil prices have bounced somewhat better than stocks so far Wednesday, on fresh reports that Iraq, the country with the worst record on compliance with the OPEC+ output restraint deal, signalling that it expects pressure from Saudi Arabia for deeper supply cuts at meetings in Vienna over the next two days.

U.S. crude futures were up 1.6% from late Tuesday at $56.97 a barrel by 6:15 AM ET, while international benchmark Brent was up 1.7% at $61.88.

At 10:30 AM, the U.S. will release its official inventories data for last week. Tuesday’s report on U.S. oil supplies from the American Petroleum Institute suggested a sharper-than-expected drop in stocks.

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