Tillerson Faces ‘Death Blow’ After Trump Clashes

Republicans try to salvage tax bill, Tillerson may be gone today, Brexit breakthrough faces border hurdle, and European manufacturing is booming.

Taxing negotiations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed until later this morning a series of votes on the Republican tax bill after plans on avoiding excess future deficits were scuppered by the Senate’s rule-making office. While it is not quite back to the drawing board for the legislation, further changes to the bill could risk alienating hard-line members of the House if that involves watering down tax cuts for businesses and individuals. Senate votes are scheduled to resume at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Border hurdle

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s hopes of securing a deal early next week that would allow Brexit talks to move onto discussions of the post-divorce relationship with the trading bloc are being threatened by both sides of the Irish border. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, on which May’s government relies for its majority in parliament, has said it will bring her administration down if she makes anything like the concessions the EU is demanding. The Irish government still insists on a soft border after Brexit, which means May has a seemingly impossible circle to square by Monday. 

Manufacturing PMIs

A Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing in the euro area rose to 60.1 for November, the highest level since 2000, while a similar gauge for the U.K. climbed to 58.2, the strongest reading since 2013. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said euro-zone manufacturers are gaining “an increased share of global trade as exports boom.” U.S. November manufacturing PMI is due to be published at 9:45 a.m.

Markets drop

Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell less than 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.3 percent higher in a volatile session. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.8 percent lower at 5:45 a.m. in a broad-based slump lead by a resumption in the tech selloff. S&P 500 futures dropped 0.4 percent, the 10-year yield was at 2.376 percent and gold was higher. 

Time up for Tillerson?

Time is quickly running out for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

America’s top diplomat heads to Europe next week hobbled by reports that the White House is preparing to oust him. On stops in Brussels, Vienna and Paris, he’ll face foreign leaders who will do their best to express comity but also wonder how much longer he’ll remain in the job.

Trump administration officials said privately Thursday that the president is considering replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Publicly, officials offered a tepid defense of the secretary of state, while President Donald Trump sidestepped the question entirely.

Administration officials said privately Thursday that the President Donald Trump is considering replacing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson, who is due to visit Europe for a series of meetings next week, is said to have had repeated clashes with the president, with one official saying his team have all but stopped talking to the president since the summer. The relationship came under further pressure in October when Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron.” 

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