1. Stocks Hold Gains as Lawmakers Debate Over Economic Aid
U.S. stocks held a modest gain that put them at all-time highs after data showing a further slowdown in the labour market stoked bets Congressional leaders will clinch a deal on federal spending. The S&P 500 climbed for a third day as lawmakers continued to negotiate details of almost $900 billion in coronavirus aid. The dollar slumped as weekly jobless claims rose to 885,000 versus an estimate of 818,000. Bitcoin breached $23,000 for the first time. In Europe, cyclical shares such as miners and retailers rose on news that the rollout of a Covid vaccine would begin this month.
The S&P 500 Index advanced 0.5% as of afternoon New York time, the highest on record.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.5%.
2. U.S. Congress Struggles to Finish Economic Stimulus Details
Congressional leaders are working through the final sticking points of a coronavirus relief deal, although the agreement probably won’t come together in time for both chambers to vote before Friday. People briefed on the talks say the draft of the roughly $900 billion proposal includes $600 in payments for individuals, $300-per-week in supplemental unemployment insurance payments and aid for small businesses, as well as about $17 billion for airlines. But it omits aid to state and local governments and lawsuit liability protection, the two issues that stalled earlier attempts at an agreement.
3. India Rejoins US Watchlist in Possible Boost For Rupee & Bonds
India’s addition to the U.S. watchlist for currency manipulation is a trial for its central bank, and a possible boon for local currency- and bond markets. The U.S. Treasury Department’s latest foreign-exchange report cited India’s “significant” goods trade surplus with the U.S. and “sustained” net currency purchases through the year to June. Authorities should limit such intervention to periods of excessive volatility while allowing the rupee to adjust based on economic fundamentals. The central bank’s headache — which comes on top of above-target inflation and struggling growth — looks like a boost for the rupee. The currency has been Asia’s worst performer this year, as the Reserve Bank of India has countered relentless foreign investment inflows with dollar purchases that have pushed the country’s reserves to a record $579 billion.
4. London’s Economy Shaken With Covid Curbs and Brexit Fears
London enters the final days of 2020 with its position as the U.K.’s economic growth engine being whittled away by Brexit and the struggle to contain the coronavirus. The decision to place the capital under the toughest Covid-19 curbs caps a year that saw the virus inflict a bigger hit on London’s job market than other regions. The city, which accounts for more than one-fifth of the U.K. economy, is also seeing global banks shift some people and assets to other European countries. Figures published Thursday by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that consumer spending in London was still 10% below its pre-crisis level in November.
5. U.S. Jobless Claims Jump to Highest Levels in Three Months
Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits unexpectedly jumped to the highest level in three months, suggesting the labour market’s recovery is faltering amid the surge in Covid-19 cases and widening business restrictions. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 23,000 to 885,000 in the week ended Dec. 12, Labor Department data showed Thursday. Continuing claims for state programs declined by 273,000 to 5.51 million in the week ended Dec. 5. That figure roughly approximates the number of people receiving state unemployment benefits but doesn’t include the millions of people who have already exhausted those benefits or are receiving assistance through federal pandemic jobless aid programs.
6. Credit Suisse Charged Over Money Laundering in Cocaine Ring
Credit Suisse Group and one of its former bank managers have been indicted by Swiss prosecutors over the lender’s alleged failure to prevent money laundering by a Bulgarian drug ring. The Zurich-based bank failed to take all the organizational measures that were “reasonable and required” to guard against the laundering of cash made from the sale of cocaine that was then used to buy real estate in Switzerland and Bulgaria. Swiss prosecutors can target banks criminally if they believe institutions didn’t do enough to screen clients for obvious ties to illicit activity.
7. China Lags as Thailand, Russia Rank Top Emerging Market Picks
Thailand and Russia are well placed to be among the emerging-market standouts that could beat expectations next year. That’s according to a Bloomberg study of 17 developing markets gauging their outlook for 2021 based on 11 indicators of economic and financial performance. Thailand topped the list, owing to its solid reserves and a high potential for portfolio inflows, while Russia scored No. 2 thanks to robust external accounts and a strong fiscal profile, in addition to an undervalued ruble. China scores fairly poorly given that high expectations are already baked in.
8. DoorDash Sinks After Citron Calls IPO ‘Most Ridiculous’ of 2020
DoorDash‘s shares fell on Thursday after short-seller Citron Research called its initial public offering the “most ridiculous” of the year and said the stock is worth a fraction of its current price. The stock is worth $40 a share, Citron said in a research report, citing intense competition in the market for food delivery, lack of brand loyalty from customers and potential government regulation. That would represent a 75% decline from Wednesday’s closing price. The stock fell as much as 5.1% following Citron’s comments.
9. Goldman Trading Bonus May Jump Nearly 20% This Year
Goldman Sachs is planning to boost bonuses for the trading division by up to 20% after the business reclaimed its stature as the firm’s golden goose. The fatter paychecks come on the back of a 49% jump in revenue following a sluggish decade for a group that was once the envy of Wall Street. Corners of trading, particularly in fixed income, could expect much bigger payouts. There will be a greater divergence in payouts than in previous years, with some people potentially getting pay cuts despite generating more revenue. Goldman’s bonus decisions have been a touchy topic ever since the firm’s success through the 2008 financial crisis drew public attention. But this year, banks all along Wall Street saw staggering gains, giving powerhouses more cover to share spoils.
10. U.S. to Limit Use of Chinese Power Equipment on Military Bases
The Trump administration is issuing new prohibitions on the use of Chinese power equipment on military bases, citing the need to protect the U.S. facilities from foreign adversaries. Utilities that supply military bases and other critical defence facilities will be barred from using high-voltage transformers and other so-called bulk power equipment from China under an order being issued Thursday by Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. The order is another step in the Trump administration’s wide-ranging effort to restrict access by Huawei and other Chinese companies to Western networks and technology.