May 22, 2018

China cuts car tariffs and other news to know before the Opening Bell

1. China cuts car tariffs: China announced Tuesday it will cut import tariffs on passenger cars from 25% to 15%, its latest step to further open its huge economy.

The move, which the Chinese Finance Ministry said will take effect in July, fulfills a pledge made by President Xi Jinping in April.

It may also help ease trade tensions between China and the United States. The two countries said over the weekend they had agreed to suspend plans to impose new tariffs on each other's imports. That news gave a lift to US stocks on Monday.

In another indication of improving relations, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets are reporting that Washington and Beijing are nearing a deal to lift a crippling ban on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE that prevents it from buying American parts. The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the reports.

2. Zuckerberg in Brussels: Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before the European Parliament at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Facebook is under close scrutiny in Europe following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Information about 2.7 million Europeans was exposed without their knowledge, according to the European Commission.

Zuckerberg will meet leaders of the European Parliament's main political groups and members of its justice committee. Under pressure, the Facebook CEO has agreed for the hearing to be streamed live online.

The meeting comes at a crucial time: Europe's sweeping new data protection law comes into effect on Friday.

3. Italy's leadership contender: Italian stock markets and the euro posted small gains early on Tuesday as the country moved closer towards forming a new government.

The populist Five Star Movement put forward Giuseppe Conte, a little-known law professor with no political experience, to become prime minister of a coalition government with a far-right party.

Italian government bonds have been hit hard by fears that the new government could embark on a spending spree. Borrowing costs skyrocketed because investors are worried about the country's ability to repay its debts.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were pointing higher early Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.2% on Monday, while the S&P 500 was up 0.7% and the Nasdaq climbed 0.5%.

European markets opened mostly higher, following a mixed trading session in Asia. Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for public holidays.

US oil futures jumped 0.5% early Tuesday to trading around $72.70, the highest level since late 2014.

5. Earnings: Kohl's is set to report earnings before the opening bell on Tuesday. Urban Outfitters and Hewlett Packard will follow after the close.

6. Coming this week: Tuesday — Kohl's reports earnings Wednesday — New home sales report; Lowe's, Tiffany and Target and L Brands report earnings Thursday — Existing home sales report; Best Buy and Gap report earnings Friday — EU General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect

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