March 9, 2018 / 12:50 PM / 6 months ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Good morning. Analysts fear the Kim-Trump summit could prove to be more ‘spectacle than substance’, Amazon races Apple to the $1 trillion mark and U.S. jobs data reveals a steady unemployment rate.

U.S. President Donald Trump responds to a question about North Korea before holding a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Highlights

President Trump said he was prepared to meet Kim Jong Un in what would be the first meeting between a sitting American and North Korean leader. However analysts fear the summit may prove to be more 'spectacle than substance', as Trump moves forward with his biggest foreign policy gamble since taking office in January 2017.

U.S. job growth surged in February, recording its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years, but a slowdown in wage gains pointed to a gradual increase in inflation this year. Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 313,000 jobs last month, boosted by the largest gain in construction jobs since 2007, the Labor Department said.

From Japan and South Korea to Australia and Europe, officials lined up to seek exemptions from Trump’s tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports, while Chinese producers called on Beijing to retaliate in kind.

Commentary

Though the Russian government has denied involvement in the poisoning of a former British double agent, British authorities believe Moscow was behind the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The attack, which used a sophisticated nerve agent, may have been timed to send a pointed political message ahead of Russia’s March 18 presidential election. “The difficulty of manufacturing the chemicals makes them practically the calling card of a government-sponsored assassin,” writes Peter Apps. “That may be part of the point – to remind foes no one is safe no matter how far or long they run.”

World

A boy stands as an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent drives through the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

An emergency aid convoy crossed front lines into the besieged rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta, Red Cross officials said, but air strikes resumed in the area after an overnight pause. For eastern Ghouta’s civilians, trapped in underground shelters but deprived of food and water, there is a constant dilemma - whether to seek supplies or stay inside.

A move to end presidential term limits, enabling Chinese President Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely, may well have slammed the door shut on any hopes for a resurgence of grassroots activism and pressure for democratic political reform.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said he had no intention now of stepping down to take responsibility for the resignation of the National Tax Agency chief, who came under fire for remarks about a suspected cronyism scandal.

Business

Apple, the world’s most valuable publicly listed company, is in danger of being beaten by Amazon.com to the $1 trillion mark. Amazon’s stock has surged 83 percent over the past year, bolstered by scorchingly fast revenue growth as more shopping moves online and businesses shift their computing operations to the cloud, where Amazon Web Services leads the market.

Wynn Resorts has agreed to pay $2.6 billion to settle a lawsuit brought by Japan’s Universal Entertainment and its U.S. unit, ending a six-year old dispute that pitted casino mogul Steve Wynn against his former associate Kazuo Okada.

The online video streamer’s shares have remained well above analysts’ average 12-month target for much of this year, and the gap between the actual share price and the mean target hit a two-year high earlier this week, as the graphics below show.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk took to Twitter to call on Trump to challenge China’s auto trade rules, which limit foreign ownership of Chinese ventures and impose steep tariffs on imported cars.

Top stories on Reuters TV

The upcoming wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and his American fiancee Meghan Markle could be worth as much as one billion pounds ($1.38billion) to the UK economy according to one estimate. British luxury gift manufacturer Halcyon Days expects its sales to receive a boost of between 10 to 15 percent.

The royal wedding's one billion pound economy lift
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