Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - ‘Total disaster’

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

Michael Cohen, the star witness in Donald Trump’s hush money-fraud case, finally took the witness stand Monday in New York state court in Manhattan. Under direct examination by prosecutors, Cohen testified that he worked to bury negative stories on behalf of Trump and connected his former boss to a payoff made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, allegedly in exchange for her silence about an affair. It was part of a wider effort by Trump to save his 2016 presidential campaign by paying to hide lascivious details about his personal life from voters, and then hide those hush money payments with accounting fraud, prosecutors have alleged. Cohen told the jury that Trump told him that if news of a sexual encounter with Daniels got out, it would spell “disaster” for his White House bid. “This is a disaster, a total disaster,” Trump said, according to Cohen. “Women will hate me. Guys may think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.” 

Here are today’s top stories

GameStop shares surged as speculation swirled around a return to social media by Keith Gill, who drove the meme-stock mania of 2021 under the moniker “Roaring Kitty.” The account’s post on the site X showed a man leaning forward with what looked like a gaming controller, which some traders interpreted to mean that Gill is coming back. Gill, whose account has long been dormant, shot to fame by rallying day traders on Reddit in an effort to squeeze GameStop short sellers.

The biggest US tech stocks are not only a bet on innovation but also a possible hedge against inflation, according to some respondents in the latest Bloomberg Markets Live Pulse survey. Gold, the haven of choice for decades, is still seen as the best safeguard against the risk of rising prices, according to 46% of survey participants. But almost a third said the tech behemoths are their first pick for the role.

China will start selling the first batch of its 1 trillion yuan ($138 billion) of ultra-long special sovereign bonds this week, as officials ramp up efforts to support the world’s No. 2 economy. The central government will begin a flurry of such sales by issuing 40 billion yuan of 30-year bonds on Friday, according to a notice by the Ministry of Finance. That ended months of speculation over when the bonds—the fourth of their kind in 26 years—would be rolled out, after a broad plan was announced in March. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been stepping up fiscal support to help the economy, which is facing pressure from a housing crisis and weak consumer confidence.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underscored his support for Hamas, saying more than a thousand members of the organization are being treated in Turkey. This marks the first time the Turkish president has publicly announced that Hamas members are receiving treatment in the country. Erdogan hosted Hamas’s political leader in Istanbul on April 20 to discuss the need for a permanent cease-fire in the war with Israel and accelerated humanitarian aid in Gaza.

President Emmanuel Macron said he would be open to seeing a major French bank taken over by a European Union rival in order to spur the deeper financial integration he sees as critical to the bloc’s future. “Dealing as Europeans means you need consolidation as Europeans,” Macron said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We have now to open this box and to deliver a single-market approach which is much more efficient.” Amid Russia’s war on Ukraine and the steady deterioration of the global trading system, Macron has been trying to persuade his EU partners to embrace what he sees as a transformative program of reforms to turn the EU into a more united and powerful economic force.

Emmanuel Macron Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

Air quality has turned unhealthy for parts of the Upper Midwest in the US, including the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as smoke drifts south from ongoing Canadian forest fires. The US National Weather Service said air quality alerts have been posted for Minnesota and Wisconsin. At the same time, extreme fire weather dangers exist in parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, Natural Resources Canada warns. 

Melinda French Gates is stepping down as co-chair of the $75 billion foundation she helped run with her former husband, Bill Gates. She’ll receive an additional $12.5 billion to use for her own charitable purposes as part of an agreement with her ex-husband. “I am taking this step with full confidence the foundation is in strong shape,” French Gates said. “The time is right for me to move forward into the next chapter of my philanthropy.” 

Melinda Gates Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

Watch Auctions Have Vaulted Rexhepi to the Top 

Three watches made by Switzerland’s Rexhep Rexhepi sold for a combined $4.3 million at auction, cementing the young Geneva watchmaker’s place among top-tier collector brands, including F.P. Journe and Patek Philippe. A unique “Chronomètre Antimagnetique” fetched 2.1 million Swiss francs ($2.3 million) at the Only Watch charity auction on Friday. And on Sunday, a titanium Akrivia brand watch produced in 2015 sold for about $700,000 at Phillips. 

Unique Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique sold for 2.1 million Swiss francs at the Only Watch charity auction. Source: Akrivia

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