As geopolitical tensions continue to heighten, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued to meet with political leaders including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Here, Blinken suggested that the US saw the Palestinian Authority as “playing a central role” in the future of post-war Gaza, according to a senior state department official. Blinken’s visit to the West Bank came a day after he urged Israeli leaders to allow further aid into Gaza by putting a temporary cease fire in play and brining humanitarian aid through the Raffa border crossing. Thus far, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained his position that there will not be a ceasefire unless Israeli hostages are freed.
Blinken also made a surprise visit to Baghdad as concerns mount on the possibility of the conflict escalating across the Middle East. Here, Blinken met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani where the former stated that “it was very important to send a very clear message to anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region: ‘Don’t do it’”. Blinken also met the Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Saturday, where he discussed alarm over the skirmishes that have taken place along Lebanon’s southern border. Given increasing geopolitical fragmentation, the US are keen to ensure that the current war does not spill over into a wider regional conflict and thus it is likely that Blinken will continue to meet with leaders over the coming days and weeks as the conflict intensifies.
This morning Japanese services PMI came in marginally higher than expected, rising to 51.6 and surpassing the last print of 51.1. While the data indicates that the Japanese services sector remains in expansionary territory, there are signs that demand is waning and business confidence easing. This came amid some inflationary pressures as higher fuel and wage costs fed into a considerable rise in input prices. Following the release, Economics Director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, Andrew Harker, said that “While the PMI data continue to make positive reading for the Japanese service sector, the recent trends suggest that growth is on the wane. Rates of expansion in activity and new orders were the weakest since the turn of the year in October and softer business confidence suggests that the slowdown could continue as 2023 draws to a close.”
The release of Japanese PMIs come ahead of the Eurozone equivalent data release at 0900 and the UK’s at 0930.
Tomorrow will see King Charles III take part in his first State Opening of Parliament as King where he will deliver a speech to some 600 guests from the throne in the House of Lords. The ceremony gives the government the chance to outline their legislative agenda for the coming year with members of the House of Commons subsequently debating its content over the coming sessions. Tomorrow’s State Opening of Parliament will also mark the first such ceremony for Rishi Sunak as PM where it is expected that topics such as leaseholds will be brought into focus, in addition to criminal sentencing, net zero policies and many other roll-over policies from previous Parliamentary sessions which are yet to get royal assent.
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