Negativity from the US sent the FTSE lower as the markets opened for the last trading day of the week. The US saw all major equity indices close lower after fears set in that the US tax reform may not clear the Senate.
As the combined House and Senate version of the bill was being completed, Senator Rubio said he will oppose it unless a credit was included to help poorer families. His opposition comes as the health of two other Republicans mean that they could miss the vote. All this is important because the margins that the Republican have to work with are so narrow. Given that no Democrat is expected to vote the in favour of the bill, Republican can afford no more than 2 dissenters, or this could be Trump’s second legislative failure, after Obamacare.
Brexit under the spotlight in otherwise quiet session
With no economic data to look towards today, the FTSE will have all eyes on Brussels where Prime Minister is hopefully of receiving a formal go-ahead to the second phase of the Brexit talks. This second phase would include discussion regarding Britain and the EU’s future trading relationship.
Given the rather lacklustre start to trading both on the FTSE and for the pound it will be interesting to see what impact any formal statement may have, if any. On the last full Friday of trading before Christmas, it definitely feels like traders have woken up tired and slightly off their game. But given that momentum is on the pound’s side after two consecutive positive sessions against the dollar, the good new may give it a small boost to sterling, even if there is no surprise element to it.
Bitcoin up before trading begins on CME this weekend
The one asset which does seem to be firing on all cylinders this morning is the bitcoin. (No surprise there!) The futures traded on the CBOE exchange were showing an increase of over 6.5%, or a 1100 pips early on taking the price to just shy of 18,000. This Sunday, as bitcoin futures complete their first week trading on the CBOE, trading kick off on the second futures exchange to trade the virtual currency, the CME.
This move also comes as a Japanese company says it will start paying employees in bitcoin, in order to gain a better understanding of the virtual currency. These events are all serving to increase the legitimacy of bitcoin and to bring it into the mainstream.