Stocks turn mixed, dollar faces rate hike uncertainty

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Share markets turned mixed in Asia on Monday amid conflicting signals on the prospects for a truce in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, while the Federal Reserve’s newly-found concerns over the global economy constrained the dollar.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dithered either side of flat through a sluggish session. Chinese blue chips manage to add 0.5 percent, as did Japan’s Nikkei.

But E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 slipped 0.36 percent and spread betters pointed to modest opening losses for the major European bourses.

Wall Street had firmed on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump said that he may not impose more tariffs on Chinese goods after Beijing sent a list of measures it was willing to take to resolve trade tensions.

The comment stoked speculation of a deal when Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina later this month.

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However, Sino-U.S. tensions were clearly on display at an APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea over the weekend, where leaders failed to agree on a communique for the first time ever.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in a blunt speech that there would be no end to U.S. tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods until China changed its ways.

“The comments from Trump were seen as offering a glimmer of hope that further tariff action could be held in abeyance,” said NAB’s head of FX strategy, Ray Attrill.

“The exchange of barbs between Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping in PNG on the weekend continues to suggest this is unlikely.”

SENSING A FED SHIFT
Also uncertain was the outlook for U.S. interest rates.

Federal Reserve policymakers are still signaling rate increases ahead but also sounded more concerned about a potential global slowdown, leading markets to suspect the tightening cycle may not have much further to run.

“Fed officials are having an easier time showing a slightly less hawkish leaning by noting the emerging global slowdown,” said Deutsche Bank’s macro strategist Alan Ruskin.

“It’s undercutting expectations of rate hikes moving above ‘neutral’,” which the Fed has nominated as between 2.5 and 3 percent. “This shift in tone is subtle, but fits with the more bullish bond market tone of late, and is starting to have a material impact on the dollar.”

That will focus attention on an appearance by New York Fed President John Williams later on Monday to see if he echoes the same theme.

Investors have already lengthened the odds on further hikes, with a December move now priced at 73 percent, down from over 90 percent. Futures imply rates around 2.74 percent for the end of next year, compared to 2.93 percent early this month. <0#FF:>

Yields on U.S. 10-year paper have duly declined to 3.06 percent, from a recent top of 3.25 percent.

The dollar followed to hover at 96.509 against a basket of currencies, down from a peak of 97.693. The euro was parked at $1.1400, while the dollar backed off to 112.72 yen.

Sterling remained vulnerable at $1.2826 after political turmoil over Brexit caused steep losses last week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday that toppling her would risk delaying Brexit as she faces the possibility of a leadership challenge from within her own party.

With both pro-EU and pro-Brexit lawmakers unhappy with the draft agreement, it is not clear she will be able to win the backing of parliament, raising the risk Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

In commodity markets, gold found support from the drop in the dollar and held at $1,1220.19.

Why the Thanksgiving TV episode is the very best kind of holiday special

There comes a time in the life of every major TV show when writers must give thanks for their show’s longevity and write a Thanksgiving episode.

The Thanksgiving TV episode is a distinctly American TV tradition for a distinctly American holiday. It’s not to be confused with a holiday special like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” We’re talking about your favorite TV characters sitting down (we hope) for a delicious turkey dinner together and comedy and/or drama ensuing, as it did most memorably on “Friends.”

Who can forget Monica (Courteney Cox) dancing with a turkey on her head? Who thought turkeys could fly in “WKRP in Cincinnati”? How many bet on the outcome of “Slapsgiving” on “How I Met Your Mother”?

TV series tackle major holidays all the time, from Thanksgiving and Christmas to Halloween and Valentine’s Day. And while many holidays can produce great stories, there’s something about giving thanks that creates the best television. Sorry, Santa.

The genius of the Thanksgiving episode is that the writers are forced to focus on the characters rather than decking the halls or silly costumes. Sure, sometimes there are turkey and parade antics and maybe a round of touch football, but the essence of the holiday – and thus these episodes – is a family of relatives, friends or even co-workers gathering around a table to share a meal. The turkey may burn, but the drama and comedy comes from Denise (Lena Waithe) finally coming out to her mother (Angela Bassett) on “Master of None” or Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) obsession with tradition on “This Is Us” or Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai’s (Lauren Graham) self-destructive desire to please their friends and family on “Gilmore Girls.”

Family is an instantly relatable theme: When yours gets together, there probably is some tension, just like with your favorite TV family. That’s the repeated story in the yearly outings of ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” in which Murray (Jeff Garlin) always argues with his brother Marvin (Dan Fogler). It might get old, but when it comes to family problems, the same fight is likely to break out again and again.

Fogler is just one of the many great guest stars who have popped in for a Turkey Day treat. Brad Pitt showed up on “Friends” as a man who hated Rachel (Jennifer Aniston, then his wife). Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner appeared as Jess’ (Zoey Deschanel) divorced parents on “New Girl.”

As great as they can be, Christmas episodes don’t have the same spark. Sure, you can get great guest stars and heated family dynamics in those episodes, but they’re often weighed down with a schmaltzy tone straight out of a Hallmark movie or “Jingle All the Way”-style gift and decoration antics.

Any conflict is resolved in holiday celebrations (Chrismukkah on “The O.C.”). Christmas magic is maybe real (“Community”). Someone helps the less fortunate (“The West Wing”). Everyone is nicer and sweeter on this one day of the year. Even supernatural shows like “Doctor Who” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fall prey to the cliched “magic of Christmas.” “Who” has a cheery Christmas special every year, and “Buffy” aired an episode in which a Christmas snowfall saves Angel (David Boreanaz) from killing himself.

If you’re in the mood for that bountiful Christmas spirit, dozens of TV movies about happily-ever-afters can be found on an expanding number of outlets (Netflix, BET, Freeform and Lifetime have stepped into Hallmark’s territory), plus specials like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Can you name a Thanksgiving TV special other than “Charlie Brown”?

And as fun as it is to see favorite characters in Halloween costumes, dating on Valentine’s Day or toasting at midnight on New Year’s Eve, all those holidays are slighter than Thanksgiving, and so are the episodes that accompany them.

Here’s the thing about Thanksgiving: Regardless of your religion or race, all Americans celebrate it, and there are a million ways to do so. So we get strippers and ecstasy on “The Sopranos,” or a pumpkin fight on “Modern Family” or the precinct getting stuck in lockdown on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

There’s more TV than ever, and thus more Thanksgiving TV than ever. You can break bread with the DiMeos on ABC’s “Speechless” (Friday, 8:30 EST/PST) or toast with the Pearsons on NBC’s “This is Us” (Nov. 20, 9 EST/PST).