1. U.S. Stocks Rise Toward Record; Treasuries Decline

U.S. stocks snapped a two-day slide to push back toward records as a decline in jobless claims signalled a modest firming of the labour market. Oil declined. The S&P 500 Index advanced past its closing high, while 10-year Treasury yields held around 1.15%. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was buoyed by strong results. Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits fell slightly last week in a sign that the labour market is still gradually improving as the vaccine rollout continues and business restrictions ease. In the background, there’s still a debate over whether more U.S. stimulus, the vaccine rollout and the government’s determination to kickstart growth will cause the American economy to overheat.

The S&P 500 Index gained 0.3% as of 9:36 a.m. in New York.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.4%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased by 0.2%.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index advanced 0.4%.

2. Amsterdam Topples London as Europe’s Main Share-Trading Hub

Amsterdam overtook London as Europe’s largest share trading centre in January after Brexit saw about half of the city’s volumes move to the continent. An average 9.2 billion euros ($11 billion) of shares a day were traded on various Dutch venues in January, a more than fourfold increase from December. That compares to average daily volumes in London of 8.6 billion euros. Britain lost its rights to access the single market on Dec. 31 and the European Union has not permitted investors inside the bloc to trade shares in companies such as Airbus and BNP Paribas from the U.K. That’s seen more than 6 billion euros of daily EU share trading leave London since the start of the year.

3. IEA Says Oil Market Recovery Still Fragile as Virus Persists

The re-balancing of global oil markets remains “fragile” amid weaker estimates for demand and a recovery in supplies, the International Energy Agency said. The IEA cut forecasts for world oil consumption in 2021 by 200,000 barrels a day as the pandemic continues to limit travel and economic activity. It boosted projections for supplies outside the OPEC cartel by 400,000 barrels a day as a price recovery spurs investment. “Renewed lockdowns, stringent mobility restrictions and a rather slow vaccine rollout in Europe have delayed the anticipated rebound,” the Paris-based agency, which advises major economies, said on Thursday in a monthly report.

4. Democrats Use Video, Trump’s Words in Blaming Him for Riot

House prosecutors used the second day of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to detail a months-long campaign by the former president to stoke hatred and encourage violence over the election results that they said culminated in the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol that he then did little to stop. Using previously unreleased videos and audio, the Democratic lawmakers vividly showed senators how close the rioters who ransacked the Capitol came to reaching them, as well as then-Vice President Mike Pence. Senators in the chamber listened in rapt silence as the recordings played.

5. Economic Boost from Americans’ Stimulus Checks Doubtful

President Joe Biden has promised to “act fast” in delivering another dose of pandemic relief, including $1,400 checks for millions of Americans. That doesn’t mean all the recipients will be in a hurry to spend the money.  By comparison with the first round of stimulus checks that went out last spring, the payments from Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid bill are much more likely to be saved rather than spent. Some of Biden’s Democratic allies are making that case and calling for a more targeted approach as the administration steers its bill through Congress. They want to lower the income ceiling for people to qualify for the full $1,400, currently set at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

6. Bitcoin Hits Record as Mastercard, BNY Mellon Embrace Crypto

Bitcoin jumped to a record high after Mastercard and Bank of New York Mellon moved to make it easier for customers to use cryptocurrencies. The largest digital asset rose as much as 7.4% to $48,364, surpassing the all-time high reached Monday after Tesla announced it would hold $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency on its balance sheet. The wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index also touched a record. “The crypto-asset world is bursting into the realms of traditional finance at a staggering pace,” said Simon Peters, an analyst at investment platform eToro. Mastercard has already partnered with crypto card providers such as Wirex and BitPay, but has required digital currencies to be converted into fiat before processing payments for transactions on its network.

7. Biden, in Call With Xi, Talks of ‘Unfair Economic Practices’

Joe Biden, in his first conversation as president with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, spoke of his concern about China’s “coercive and unfair economic practices” as well as human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region. Biden also expressed misgivings about the country’s growing restrictions on political freedoms in Hong Kong and “increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” in the call, which took place Thursday morning Beijing time. Biden, who wished Xi a happy Lunar New Year, was “committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies.”

8. Germany Curbs Travel; WHO Warns on Mutations: Virus Update

The World Health Organization warned that a decline in overall virus cases conceals increasing numbers of outbreaks and community spread involving variants, with the strain first identified in South Africa late last year now identified in 19 countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said coronavirus mutations will likely become dominant across the country, threatening to derail the progress made in containing the pandemic. The country plans to impose restrictions on travel from Austria and the Czech Republic over concerns about aggressive mutations.

9. Dubai Business Activity Barely Grows As Restrictions Reimposed

Non-oil companies in Dubai increased output for the second month in a row in January but the uptick was marginal in the emirate where authorities have reimposed some restrictive measures imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19. The non-oil private sector economy in the Middle East’s business hub improved fractionally last month, according to IHS Markit. While its Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.6 in January from 51 last month, driven by a decrease in output and new orders, the gauge still remained above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. Employment figures in Dubai showed an uptick for the first time in about a year, and at the quickest pace in 14 months as companies expressed optimism toward future business.

10. Kuwait Currency Peg in Spotlight With State Unable to Borrow

The Kuwaiti dinar’s peg to a basket of currencies is coming under scrutiny as concerns grow that one of the world’s richest nations is running short of cash. While other Gulf Arab states tapped global debt markets to bolster strained finances amid the pandemic, Kuwait has been hamstrung by lawmakers’ resistance to approving a law that would enable the government to borrow. Concern over how Kuwait will cover its budget deficit has become more acute after the government transferred the last of its performing assets to the country’s sovereign wealth fund in exchange for cash.

Curated from Bloomberg.com