1. Tech Shares, Bonds Rally on Waning Stimulus Bets
Technology shares led a rally in U.S. stock futures, while Treasuries surged the most since June and the dollar fluctuated as a too-close-to-call American election zapped expectations for a massive federal spending bill. Futures on the Nasdaq 100 jumped more than 3% and the 10-year Treasury yield slumped below 0.8% as the outcome of the presidential vote remained uncertain. With Congress predicted to remain divided, investors have scaled back bets that lawmakers will inject enough cash into the economy to stoke growth and offset the damage from the virus. Traders poured into the blue-chip tech shares that have carried stock gains throughout the tumultuous year.
2. Trump-Biden Election Fight May Be the Closest Fight in Years
Close contests in five key states mean the U.S. presidential election may not be decided for day, even as President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory over Democrat Joe Biden with millions of ballots still to be counted. As of 6 a.m. New York time Wednesday, Biden had 238 electoral votes while Trump had 213, leaving both shy of the 270 needed to secure immediate victories. In a middle of the night speech from the White House, Trump threatened to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene to stop what he called the disenfranchisement of Republican voters, without offering evidence that any wrongdoing had occurred.
3. Emirates airline asks pilots to take 12 months unpaid leave
Dubai’s Emirates airline is asking some pilots to take a year of unpaid leave as it seeks to cut costs due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The aviation industry is enduring its worst crisis after the pandemic crippled most flights, forcing airlines around the world to layoff employees. Most Emirates’ employees are foreigners, meaning they are not eligible for government benefits in the United Arab Emirates where the airline is headquartered and operates from. Emirates would continue to provide accommodation, medical cover and other allowances to those on unpaid leave. Emirates has cut thousands of jobs this year, including pilots and flight attendants, while also cutting salaries and asking staff to take unpaid leave.
4. Lloyds Banking Group cuts 1,070 jobs: Union Unite
Britain’s biggest domestic bank Lloyds is cutting more than 1,000 jobs, the worker’s union Unite said in a statement. The union said the lender was also creating 329 roles. Lloyds could not immediately be reached for comment. “Unite cannot comprehend why LBG would choose to cut 1,000 staff who have given the bank such commitment and dedication during a global pandemic,” said Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer.
5. Turkey fines social media giants for breaching online law
Turkey has issued fines against global social media companies for failing to appoint a representative to ensure they conform to Turkish law, a senior official said Wednesday. Omer Fatih Sayan, chairman of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority, said Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube and TikTok would be fined 10 million lira ($1.2 million) each. The fines are the first step on an escalating scale of penalties that can end in a block on 90% of the site’s internet traffic bandwidth.
6. Ship-Cruise industry scraps 2020 restart amid COVID surge
The cruise industry has jettisoned hopes of restarting operations this year. Days after both Carnival and Norwegian extended a halt on cruises through the end of the year, the group that represents cruise lines with 95% of global ocean-going capacity. The cruise industry has been essentially closed for business since mid-March, when it became clear that the deadly and contagious virus had already been sweeping through the US unabated for weeks. The cruise association estimates that the suspension of cruises snuffed out more than $25bn in economic activity, and 164,000 jobs in the US alone.
7. Egypt and Saudi business conditions improve, while UAE’s worsen
Business activity in Egypt grew at its fastest pace in almost six years, buoyed by an uptick in new orders, while Saudi Arabia saw a second month of milder improvements. In the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, non-oil private sector activity fell below the threshold of 50 that separates growth from contraction for the first time since August, according to Purchasing Managers’ Index. Concerns over further unemployment and renewed lockdowns continued to cloud the three major Arab economies.
8. Saudi Arabia Loosens Controversial Curbs on Foreign Workers
Saudi Arabia will remove several controversial restrictions on foreign workers in a labor policy overhaul that officials hope will attract overseas talent and reduce citizen unemployment. Non-Saudis will no longer need their employer’s permission to change jobs, travel abroad or leave the country permanently. The new rules will come into effect on March 14 and apply to all foreign workers in the private sector. The changes could have a dramatic impact on Saudi Arabia’s labor market and the lives of the 1.05 crore foreign workers who make up about one-third of the kingdom’s population.
9. Dubai Watchdog Stiffens Oversight After Private Equity Fiascoes
Dubai’s financial regulator has been stepping up scrutiny of firms to avoid a repeat of two high-profile failures in the emirate’s private equity industry, Abraaj and Al Masah Capital Ltd. The private equity industry in the Middle East’s business and trade hub has been rocked by the collapse of Abraaj in 2018 and the arrest of several of its executives amid allegations that it misused investor funds. Al Masah was placed in liquidation earlier this year after it was fined by the DFSA for allegedly misleading investors about fees and its founder banned from working in the Dubai International Financial Center. In both cases, the companies were conducting business from offices in Dubai’s financial center but had funds registered in the Cayman Islands.
10. European Car Sales Backslide in the Midst of Another Virus Wave
Car sales fell in Europe’s four largest auto markets last month, signalling demand has relapsed in the midst of another wave of the coronavirus cases hitting the region. German new-car registrations dropped 3.6% in October from a year ago. Sales plunged by more than a fifth in Spain, slumped 10% in France and slipped 0.2% in Italy, suggesting the industry will be unable to maintain the surprising growth seen in September. The figures are a troubling potential harbinger of what lies ahead for Europe’s car industry and the broader economy.