Trade fears; Luxury thrives in China; Record loss for Tata Motors

Posted February 8, 2019 5:49 a.m. EST

— 1. Trade worries: Concerns that the trade conflict between the United States and China may not be resolved before the agreed deadline are pulling down global markets.

Japan's Nikkei dropped over 2% on Friday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed in negative territory. European markets opened lower.

US stock futures also declined, suggesting the sell-off that pushed the Dow and S&P 500 down 0.9% on Thursday will continue when markets open in New York.

Fears over trade deepened Thursday after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that there was a "pretty sizable distance" between Beijing and Washington in trade negotiations.

President Donald Trump also said he was unlikely to meet with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before March 2, when a trade truce between the two sides expires.

Trump has threatened to increase existing tariffs and enact a third wave of penalties on Chinese goods imported to the United States if the two sides can't broker a permanent agreement.

2. Luxury stays strong in China: Luxury fashion house Hermes has reported sales of almost €6 billion ($6.8 billion) in 2018, a rise of 10% compared to the previous year.

The company did particularly well in China and Southeast Asia, where sales increased 14%.

L'Oreal, the world's biggest cosmetics company, reported that strong sales in China helped its sales grow at the fastest pace in a decade. Asia Pacific has now overtaken North America as its top market.

Hermes stock was up 1.4% while shares in L'Oreal gained 0.8%.

They're the latest companies to defy expectations that an economic slowdown in China would hurt luxury brands. Apple helped sparked the concerns earlier this year when it warned of weaker iPhone sales in the country.

LVMH, the owner of brands including Dior and Louis Vuitton, posted record annual sales last week.

3. The trouble with JLR: Jaguar Land Rover's poor performance in China is causing major headaches for its parent company.

Shares in Indian carmaker Tata Motors plunged as much as 30% in Mumbai after the company reported a record loss of $3.8 billion. The stock recouped some of its losses later in the day to trade down 17%.

Tata Motors said it had taken a massive £3.1 billion ($4 billion) writedown on its JLR assets. The brand has been hard hit in China, where January sales plunged 40% from the previous year amid a broad economic slowdown.

4. Brexit stalemate: Trading in the pound continues to be volatile as British Prime Minister Theresa May searches for a political solution that will get her divorce agreement through the UK parliament.

May was in Brussels for meetings on Thursday, and she will meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Friday. Britain is set to leave the European Union in less than 50 days, but there's still no clarity on its exit plan.

On Thursday, the Bank of England slashed its forecast for UK economic growth in 2019 to just 1.2% because of weaker activity abroad and uncertainty over Brexit.

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5. Earnings and economics: Goodyear Tire, Hasbro and Phillips 66 will release earnings before the open.

Canada's jobs report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.

6. Coming this week:Friday — Hasbro, Phillips 66 report earnings