Singapore Pre-Market Tuesday: China’s Xi watched for trade cues, FBI raids Trump lawyer’s records

Markets may remain jittery on Tuesday as fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China haven’t entirely subsided and fresh U.S. political ructions are likely ahead.

Wall Street appeared less jittery on Monday, with the three major indexes slightly higher; futures suggested they might open a tad lower later in the global day.

The tit-for-tat tariff proposals from the U.S. and China, followed by reassurances from political leaders that negotiations were afoot, have spurred roller-coaster market trade. The next rhetorical cue for trade-watchers will come from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will be speaking later Tuesday at the Boao Forum, an annual event compared with the World Economic Forum’s Davos conclave.

At least one analyst expected reassuring noises.

“The real question is whether China’s president will downplay the trade war or emphasize their willingness to counterattack with great strength if U.S. tariffs take into effect. Based on China’s past responses, the former is more likely than the latter,” Kathy Lient, managing director of foreign-exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a note on Tuesday. But she noted that investors would still worry about the potential for more aggression from Trump.

In the U.S. on Monday, the FBI raided the home, office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, who is U.S. President Trump’s personal attorney; items taken by law enforcement included records related to a 2016 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump, according to a Washington Post report, citing a person familiar with the investigation. And in a very unusual move, the FBI appears to have cleared a high legal bar and was able to seize communications between Cohen and clients, including Trump, which would normally be subject to attorney-client privilege, the report said. Trump has reported referred to the move as a witch hunt and called it “disgraceful.”

At least one analyst pointed to the potential for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to wear on market nerves.

“The Mueller investigation continues to wear on sentiment as investors continue to sell the news and worry about the details later,” Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at OANDA, said in a note on Tuesday.

  • Keppel landed a contract with Mitsui & Co. (Asia Pacific) to build Singapore’s first dual-fuel bunker tanker, which will be owned and operated by Sinanju Tankers under a finance deal with Mitsui AP, the Singapore-based rigbuilder said in an SGX filing on Monday. It didn’t give a value for the contract.
  • Venture said in an SGX filing on Monday that Blackrock had become a substantial shareholder, raising its deemed interest to 5.19 percent from 4.98 percent previously.
  • China property developer Yanlord said that it had joined with a consortium to acquire two land parcels in Tianjin for a total of 7.55 billion yuan. The sites are located near “key thoroughfares” and metro line stations, the company said in an SGX filing on Monday. Zhong Sheng Jian said in the statement that expanding its footprint in the Bohai Rim was part of its strategy.
  • Property developers saw strong buying interest over the weekend, The Business Times reported on Tuesday, pointing to Australian developer Lendlease selling 149 units of the Paya Lebar project Park Place Residences and Oxley Holdings selling 129 units, or 76 percent, of its The Verandah Residences project.
  • Noble said in an SGX filing late on Monday that more than 70 percent of creditors have agreed to its restructuring plan, and that its ad hoc group and its advisors were in contact with around 10 percent of creditors who have indicated “broad support” for the proposed restructuring. Reuters reported the deal needs approval by senior creditors representing 75 percent of the value of its debt, and that the company warned recently that it would begin insolvency proceedings if the deal isn’t approved.
  • Shipbuilder Vard announced that it inked a deal to design and build a stern trawler for Havfisk; the contract value was slightly below 400 million Norwegian krone (US$51.36 million), the company said in an SGX filing on Tuesday.