1. U.S. Stocks Advance as Earnings From Big Banks Roll In

Stocks rose as earnings from big banks showed the trend for bad loans has stabilized, tempering concern over dwindling prospects for a pre-election stimulus deal. The S&P 500 extended this week’s rally, led by energy, industrial and technology shares. The KBW Bank Index rebounded after Tuesday’s plunge as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. posted a surge in fixed-income revenue that pushed earnings per share to its highest record. Wells Fargo & Co. slumped after profit plunged 56%, while Bank of America Corp. slid on an increase in trading revenue that was just a fraction of its competitors’ gains. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% as of 9:51 a.m. New York time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was flat today.

2. Apple launches IPhone 12 with 5G: Wins Praise for Lower Prices & New Sizes

Apple Inc.’s latest iPhones won Wall Street over by dint of lower prices and a major design overhaul, fueling expectations of a new cycle of sales growth for the world’s largest corporation.

At a virtual event on Tuesday, the company showed off the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models in screen sizes from 5.7” to 6.7”, part of the biggest re-design of Apple’s signature device in three years. Analysts praised a pricing strategy that may entice users with older, smaller iPhones to upgrade, especially drive sales for the iPhone 12 mini. They were also bullish on Apple’s ability to take on rivals like Huawei in China, the world’s largest smartphone arena, where 5G networks are considerably more built-out than in Europe and the U.S.

3. Countries Start Hoarding Food as Prices Rise and Covid Worsens

Countries have been on a shopping spree since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains. The early purchases reveal how nations are trying to protect themselves on concerns the coronavirus will disrupt port operations and wreak havoc on global trade. The pandemic has already upset domestic farm-to-fork supply chains that provided just enough inventory to meet demand, with empty store shelves across the world leading consumers to change their shopping habits.

4. U.S. Crop Report Signals Worsening Global Food-Insecurity Crisis

Fresh reports from the U.S. government showed that tighter crop supplies could worsen the food-inequality crisis that’s sweeping the globe. In its hotly watched monthly crop report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday said world soybean stockpiles will be smaller than expected, signaled growing competition over global wheat shipments and highlighted dry weather as a threat to crops in parts of South America and Europe. Taken together, the report indicated that global food prices could keep climbing, making adequate nutrition more expensive as millions are thrown out of work and economic woes deepen.

5. Xi Rallies China Behind Shenzhen as Tech Fight Heats Up

President Xi Jinping vowed to press ahead with plans to gain the global lead in technology and other strategic industries, despite expanding efforts from the U.S. and its allies to check China’s rise. The Chinese president reaffirmed his commitment to “opening up and reform” as a strategy for gaining economic advantage in a 50-minute speech Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of Shenzhen’s establishment as a Special Economic Zone. Such ambitions are at the center of growing bipartisan support in the U.S. to restrict Chinese access to the strategic technologies it needs to overtake the U.S. as the world’s leading innovation power.

6. U.S. Stimulus Standstill Triggers Rising Tensions With No Deal in Sight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have dug into their opposite viewpoints on pandemic relief, effectively killing off chances for a pre-election stimulus for the economy. The inability to bring months of negotiations to conclusion has sparked increasing tensions, with each camp seeing internal strains rise as it becomes clear there won’t be a spending bill to take to the public. President Donald Trump tweeted that Congress should “go big or go home”.

7. IMF sees debt soaring but stabilizing at 100% of GDP; if pandemic eases, growth resumes

Massive government spending to battle the coronavirus pandemic will push public debt to a record of nearly 100% of global economic output this year, but this may be a one-off event if economic growth rebounds next year, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday. The IMF said there was wide divergence among the fiscal outlooks for member countries, with advanced economies taking on the biggest increase in debt burdens, while poorer developing countries faced a tougher task of recovering from economic damage as more people fall into poverty.

8. Scotland Independence Support Rises to a Record in Divided U.K.

Support in Scotland for breaking away from the rest of the U.K. climbed to a record as the coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout harden political divisions in the country. The prospect of a renewed battle over the future of the U.K. is becoming increasingly likely for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is already juggling the need for tighter restrictions to curb Covid-19 and tense negotiations with the European Union on a trade deal. The pro-independence Scottish National Party is way ahead in the polls ahead of elections to the Scottish parliament in May and has said its victory will reinforce their mandate to push for another independence referendum and is preparing legislation.

9. World Bank approves $12 billion to finance virus vaccines

The World Bank has approved $12 billion (INR 88,000 cr) in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion (100 cr) people. The $12 billion “envelope” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday.

10. Hyundai Motor’s heir takes over from father after 20 years in waiting

Hyundai Motor Group appointed Euisun Chung as group chairman on Wednesday, cementing his succession from his 80+year old father in a move likely to give a boost to the world’s fifth-largest automaker’s push into electric vehicles and flying cars. In the first-generation handover at the South Korean automobile giant in 20 years, Chung, 49, said he hoped to lead change at South Korea’s second-biggest conglomerate as it battles to stay ahead of the pack in a time of rapid technological innovation in the global auto industry. Chung identified autonomous driving, electrification, hydrogen fuel cell, robotics and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) – industry jargon for flying cars – as his initiatives for the future.