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“U.S. Futures Point to Opening Gain as Mnuchin Flies to China for Trade Talks.”  This morning’s Wall Street Journal article leads with:
U.S. stock futures edged higher Monday as U.S. officials arrived in Beijing to start another round of trade negotiations with China.After trading around the flatline for much of the morning, S&P 500 futures and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.2% apiece. Changes in futures don’t necessarily reflect moves after the opening bell.The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.6%, while major indexes in Asia ended mixed.Investors are starting the week with a close eye on trade talks between Washington and Beijing, with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin landing in Beijing Monday and scheduled to meet with China’s vice premier later in the week.

Shutdown talks at an impasse.  
Yesterday, Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) were interviewed on Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE:A congressional conference committee is up against the clock looking for a compromise on border security President Trump will sign to avoid another government shutdown in just five days.Joining us now, two leading members of the panel: the Republican chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Richard Shelby, and Democratic Senator Jon Tester.Gentlemen, welcome to “FOX News Sunday”.Senator Tester, let me start with you, has the conference committee reached agreement at least on the number of reported barriers? And these reports that it’s going to be south of $2 billion, is that true?SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT), BIPARTISAN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE:We are still in negotiations, Chris, and I think that when you’re talking about border security. It includes more than just a barrier. It includes technology. It includes what we are going to do with the ports, manpower, aircraft, the works.We are not to a point where we can announce a deal, negotiations are still going on. There are good people on this committee, so I have confidence that hopefully we’ll get something done very soon.WALLACE:Yes. Senator Shelby, I hope you heard Chief of Staff Mulvaney just before you say that apparently an issue has come up and at the talks are in jeopardy. Tell me what that is.SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), BIPARTISAN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE:I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning because time is ticking away. But we got some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE, that is detaining criminals that come into the U.S. and they want a cap on them, we don’t want a cap on that.We haven’t, as Jon Tester said, we haven’t reached a number on the barrier yet, but we’re working and we’re hoping we can get there. But we’ve got to get fluid again. We got to start movement.WALLACE:I’m going to get to Senator Tester and this idea that the talks are stalled. But on this question of the number, you met with President Trump on Thursday and you came out and said that you were more optimistic than you have been. If — for the sake of this argument, for the sake of this discussion, if the number is $2 billion, substantially less than the $5.7 billion, did the president give you any assurance that he’s willing to go along with that number to avoid another government shutdown?SHELBY:Well, the president — our talks with the president are confidential, but I came out of the meeting thinking we could make a deal with the Democrats if they are willing to meet us halfway. Secondly, the president basically in the conversation gave us some latitude to talk and that’s what we’re trying to do to get to yes today?WALLACE:Senator Tester, what do you — do you agree with Senator Shelby that the talks are stalled, and specifically this deal of detention. There has been talk that Democrats want fewer detention beds, which raises the question if you can detain fewer people, doesn’t that mean you have to catch and release more, which raises the possibility more of them won’t show up for their court hearings?TESTER:Chris, it’s negotiations, OK? Negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through. It’s give-and-take. It’s compromise. It’s the way government is supposed to work.We got good people in this conference committee — Chairman Shelby, John Hoeven, Blunt, Capito, you know, Durbin, I can go down the list. The bottom line is, is that we got people who aren’t bomb throwers. They are people who know how to work together and get a deal.I’m not positive we’ll end up with a deal, but with this group of people and the folks from the House, I think we are going to end up with something that deals with detention beds, with barriers, with technology, with the challenges we have on the southern border in a common sense way.Chairman Shelby is correct. Time is of the essence, we need to move forward, we need to keep our eyes on this. But I’m very hopeful, not positive, but very hopeful we can come to an agreement.WALLACE:Why would you want to limit the number of detention beds if the idea is you want to detain them rather than catch and release them and then they emerge into the country?TESTER:I can tell you — until we get a final number, I’m not sure we are doing any of that.WALLACE:But on principle, why would you want –(CROSSTALK)TESTER:We’ve got to come to a final number and it’s a negotiated process. I think what everybody wants, including the people I serve with on both sides of the aisle, they want to make sure that southern border is secure, there’s many ways to do that — whether it’s detention, whether it’s technology, whether it’s a barrier.And I think that we’ll come up — we can’t do everything all at once by the way. We have to prioritize and move forward. And I think this committee is fully capable of prioritizing expenditures and hopefully will get something the House — that the House can pass, the Senate can pass and the president will sign.WALLACE:Senator Shelby, let me bring you back into this. Obviously, time is of the essence, the government runs out of money, at least some agencies do, at midnight Friday night and because a variety of rules, and I love — one of them is that the house actually wants time to read whatever you guys come up with. The thought has been that you have to make a deal, you have to announce something by tomorrow.Do you feel that’s the deadline, and how confident are you that you can reach a deal by tomorrow?SHELBY:Chris, that is a deadline. I’m not confident were going to get there. I’m hoping we will get there.But the House has some leeway as far as they’ve got rules. That’s true. They wave rules. Sometimes that’s difficult.But I think the next 24 — I said the other day, it was 72 hours. I think the next 24 hours are crucial. We could close some deals but they’ve got to be good to secure our borders.WALLACE:Let me just pursue that for a second. You’re saying it’s got to be a good deal, obviously.What if you can’t make a deal in 24 hours? Do you give up? Do you keep going? What happens?SHELBY:I don’t think we ever give up, but the president will have some options, perhaps we will have some options but short of a deal, they’re not good options.WALLACE:Let me just pick up on that with you, Senator Shelby. I’ll bring in Senator Tester in a moment. What is your attitude at this point towards a government shutdown? Is that just completely off the table?And there’s been talk that there are a lot of Republicans, particularly in the Senate, who really don’t like the idea of declaring a national emergency despite what Mick Mulvaney said, fearing that it will set a precedent for a Democratic president.SHELBY:Well, shutting down the government should always be off the table. We would like of it to be off the table. We’ve worked hard to fund the government. We’re going to continue to work hard in these negotiations. But the specter of a shutdown is always out there.WALLACE:And what about national emergency?SHELBY:Well, I think the president has some powers under the Constitution and also under the statute. But I would rather we reach a legislative conclusion to this. That’s our job. I’m going to do everything I can to do it, but we’ve got to do it both ways. It’s got to be a double-edged sword here.WALLACE:I — you know, the interesting thing is, Senator Tester, there was quite a lot of optimism as recently as this weekend that you guys were going to have a deal, you are going to announce something. Yes, the president was going to have to eat considerably less money for a border barrier.How much trouble is this in right now?TESTER:I think Chairman Shelby put his finger on it. I mean, if we stay focused on getting a deal and we negotiate in good faith on border security, I think we’ll end up with something that can work and keep the government open and give certainty for not only the public employees, but for the safety of the country. And I think that’s the bottom line.And nobody wants a shutdown. Nobody wants the president to use some kind of emergency powers. We just need to do our job and we can do it.And look, every negotiation — almost every negotiation out there hit bumps in the roads. There are bumps on the road but as long as we stay focused in a bipartisan way, bicameral way to get this done, I’m hopeful we can get it done.Is it a done deal? No, it isn’t, and we could end up in a train wreck. It’s happened before. But I don’t think anybody has an appetite for government shutdown and I think everybody wants to make sure borders are secured.WALLACE:Do you want to give me some odds on the idea that you get — is it 50/50, better, worse that you’re going to have a deal tomorrow?TESTER:I’m a farmer. I never make the right decision when I’m selling my grain. I’m not a good poker player either.WALLACE:OK.SHELBY:I will say 50/50 we get a deal. I hope and pray we do.TESTER:So, the glass is half-full.(LAUGHTER)More in yesterday’s New York Times articleWashington Post article, and Wall Street Journalarticle.

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About Pete Davis

Pete Davis

Pete Davis advises Wall Street money managers on Washington, DC policy developments that affect the financial markets. Visit his website here daviscapitalinvestmentideas.yolasite.com.

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