1. Global Stocks Rise to Record High; Dollar Slips
Global stocks climbed to an all-time high on Thursday on optimism that fiscal spending will revive economic growth and bolster corporate earnings. The dollar weakened. Tech firms and retailers led gains in Europe, with the Stoxx 600 Index touching its highest level in almost a year. S&P 500 futures edged higher after the gauge posted its best first-day reaction to a presidential inauguration since at least 1937. Nasdaq 100 contracts outperformed following a 2% jump on Wednesday.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.2% as of early morning London time.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index increased 0.4%.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.8%.
The MSCI Emerging Market Index gained 0.6%.
2. China Stocks Rise Most this Week: Buyers Shift From Hong Kong
China’s stocks climbed the most in a week as mainland traders shifted investments back onshore, as Hong Kong’s benchmark declined soon after passing a key milestone. The CSI 300 Index of firms listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen rose 1.5%, to the highest since Jan. 14, with material and industrial stocks leading gains. The pace of investment flowing from the mainland to Hong Kong via stock connects was slower Thursday after three straight days in which mainland traders net bought more than $2.6 billion of locally-listed shares.
3. Biden’s Plea for Unity Tested as White House Girds for Fights
Joe Biden is seeking to wipe away Donald Trump’s fingerprints from U.S. policy, but his predecessor left lasting partisan divisions in Washington that pose a risk to getting the new president’s agenda through Congress. While Biden pleaded for unity in his inaugural address — “the most elusive of all things in a democracy,” he allowed — his top policy priorities including the $1.9 trillion plan coronavirus relief is already running into headwinds. More Republicans dismissed his proposed immigration overhaul as an “amnesty” for people who unlawfully entered the country. The swift opposition from Republicans, now the minority party in both chambers of Congress, sets a rough road ahead for Biden’s agenda on Capitol Hill.
4. Bitcoin Losses Gather Pace: Prices Nearing Three-Week Low
Bitcoin closed in on the lowest in three weeks as the cryptocurrency’s sizzling rally gives way to the pessimism that prices are too high. Bitcoin tumbled as much as 8.3% in the European morning, sliding below $33,000. The largest digital asset has trended lower ever since breaking through $40,000, and losses have accelerated in the past two days. While soaring crypto prices fueled a speculative mania among the Robinhood crowd, it’s also made professional investors reluctant to buy at the top. Prices are still more than double the levels from early November and some technical analysts have argued that a retracement is overdue.
5. U.S. Joins Covax; Germany Death Toll Tops 50,000: Virus Update
U.S. infectious-disease chief Anthony Fauci said the country will join Covax, the 92-nation collaboration seeking to deploy Covid-19 vaccines around the world, and pledged the U.S.’s commitment to the World Health Organization. Germany’s coronavirus fatalities passed 50,000 while the U.K. suffered its worst day in the pandemic with the prime minister’s chief scientific adviser warning that some hospitals look “like a war zone.” Hong Kong is set to grant emergency approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The move would mark the first approval for any Covid-19 vaccine in the Asian financial hub. Hungary became the first European Union nation to approve the Russian vaccine.
6. Trump Reveals Extent of Damage to His Business Empire
Donald Trump’s empire has been hit hard by coronavirus closures, with revenue from his Washington and Las Vegas hotels down by more than half. In his last financial disclosure form as president, Trump detailed the damage the pandemic has wrought, at a time when many tourism businesses are suffering from a lack of travelers. As president, the real-estate magnate resisted policies to slow the pandemic through mask-wearing, and insisted it remained safe for people to travel domestically. His golf courses in the U.K. and Ireland saw revenue drop by roughly two-thirds, part of a 27% overall decline in golfing revenue from the prior year.
7. ECB Just Can’t Escape Grip of Virus on Economy
European Central Bank officials will confront a frustrating outlook when they hold their first policy meeting of the year on Thursday, as stricter lockdowns and a slow vaccine rollout across the region threaten to leave the economy jammed up for months on end. A resurgent outbreak of the coronavirus and worries about new strains of the disease are testing the assumption that their latest stimulus boost will be enough to carry the euro area through a recovery. Political tensions in Italy are adding to uncertainties just as currency strength threatens to dampen a hoped-for rebound in inflation.
8. Ant Group Seen Dropping to $108 Billion on Govt. Crackdown
Ant Group’s valuation may be cut further under new measures proposed by China to curb market concentration in its online payments market. Jack Ma’s fintech giant may be worth less than 700 billion yuan ($108 billion) under the draft proposals, which could reduce the value of Ant’s Alipay service by half, according to senior analyst Francis Chan. Earlier this month, Chan lowered his Ant valuation to less than 1 trillion yuan, from about 1.44 trillion yuan. The revised estimate for Ant is a far cry from valuations that ran as high as $320 billion before the company was forced to scrap its record IPO in November. China’s crackdown forced Ma’s firm to withdraw the $35 billion IPO just days before its planned listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
9. China Fails to Meet U.S. Trade Deal Target in 2020
China failed to meet its 2020 trade deal targets with the U.S. in a year marked by pandemic-related disruptions and an increasingly tense relationship with the Trump administration. By the end of December, China had purchased about 58.1% of the $172 billion worth of goods it pledged to buy last year under the “phase one” agreement with Washington. It bought 60.4% of targeted manufactured products and 64.4% of agricultural goods, but lagged behind on energy, importing just 39% of the target.
10. Aramco Omits Carbon Data for Up to Half Its Real Climate Toll
Before it launched the world’s biggest public listing, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. promised potential investors a small piece of a trillion-dollar company with access to unrivalled oil reserves. Not just in sheer volume but in climate friendliness, too. But Aramco’s accounting for the greenhouse gas fails to provide a complete picture. The Saudi oil giant excludes emissions generated from many of its refineries and petrochemical plants in its overall carbon disclosures. Including all such facilities might nearly double Aramco’s self-reported carbon footprint. Such missing data is a red flag for investors, who “need to be able to put a price on the climate risks that they are running in their portfolios”.