(Jan 31): It has been an eventful start to 2020. In the very first few trading days of the new year, global stock markets were roiled by the sharp spike in tension between Iran and the US. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the two countries appear to have settled into an uneasy ceasefire.

This was followed by a string of positive developments on the trade front that lifted investor sentiment and sent stocks rallying higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index reached new all-time highs, building on last year’s strong gains.

The US and China signed a phase one trade deal that includes a commitment by the latter to substantially increase purchases of US goods and services, including farm products such as soybean. This would play well for President Donald Trump in his re-election bid.

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