1. Futures Rise as Jobs Miss Boosts Stimulus Bets
American equity-index futures gained and Treasury yields rose after a report showing U.S. employment gains slowed in November bolstered expectations for more federal stimulus. S&P 500 futures gained along with those on the Nasdaq 100 and Dow Jones. The dollar headed for its biggest weekly decline in five days. U.S. Labor Department figures showed non-farm payrolls increased by a less-than-forecast 245,000 from the prior month, as the unemployment rate dipped 0.2% to 6.7%. Energy companies led the Stoxx Europe 600 index higher, with U.K. equities outperforming as negotiators edged closer to a Brexit trade agreement. The euro strengthened for the fourth day after data signalled the German economy’s resilience to the coronavirus pandemic.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index increased 0.3% early morning New York time, the highest ever.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.3%, the highest in a week.
The MSCI All-Country World Index rose 0.2%, the highest on record.
2. OPEC+ Finds Its Way to an Exhausting Compromise on Oil Cuts
After five days of difficult talks that exposed new rifts between core members, OPEC+ agreed to gently ease output cuts next year. The deal appeared to satisfy the oil market and most of the cartel’s members, but strained the group’s unity and set up testing times ahead. After a split emerged between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the cartel couldn’t agree on what had been widely expected before this week: a full three-month delay to the scheduled January output increase. Instead, ministers resolved to add 500,000 barrels a day of production to the market next month, then hold monthly meetings to decide on subsequent moves. The maximum change in any month will be 500,000 barrels a day in either direction.
3. U.S. Hiring Rebound Markedly Slows Amid Virus Surge
The U.S. labour-market rebound markedly slowed in November, indicating the surge in Covid-19 cases is hitting workers and curbing the broader economic recovery. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 245,000 from the prior month, as the unemployment rate dipped 0.2 percentage point to 6.7%, according to a Labor Department report Friday. The labour-force participation rate and employment-population ratio both declined, in negative signs for the economy. The data raise the chances that President-elect Joe Biden will inherit an even weaker labour market next year, with the recovery at risk of stalling during the wait for widespread vaccine distribution. With millions still enduring long-term joblessness, the report may also help push Congress to pass new fiscal aid and could make Federal Reserve officials more inclined to provide new stimulus when they meet Dec. 15-16.
4. Ant, Grab Win Singapore Digital Bank Licenses Along With Sea
Ant Group and a venture led by Grab Holdings won licenses to run digital banks in Singapore, paving the way for the technology giants to expand their financial services in the Southeast Asian hub. Sea Ltd. is also among the four winners announced Friday by the Monetary Authority of Singapore after almost a year of deliberation. A consortium involving China’s Greenland Financial Holdings Group is the other successful candidate. Singapore joins the U.K. and Hong Kong in opening up its banking system to purely digital entrants, as it seeks to inject innovation and competition into a market dominated by traditional lenders. The permits are coveted given the city’s status as a rapidly growing wealth management centre and a gateway to Southeast Asia, where the digital lending market is expected to quadruple in five years.
5. India’s Gold Imports Slump as Festival Fails to Light Up Demand
Gold imports by India tumbled last month as the festival of lights failed to revive demand in the world’s second-biggest consumer. Overseas purchases fell 41% in November from a year earlier to 33.1 tons. Still, imports showed an improvement from the 29 tons in October. Jewellers in India may be staring at one of their worst years for sales in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic, high prices and a weak economy slam the ability of buyers to purchase gold. Demand during Diwali, the biggest occasion for the country’s more than 90 crore Hindus to purchase jewellery, was only about 70% of last year’s levels. India’s imports in the January to November period are down 63% from a year earlier to 220.2 tons.
6. Glaxo-Backed Vaccine Shows Strong Immune Response in Early Trial
A Covid-19 vaccine project supported by GlaxoSmithKline is headed for advanced trials after showing a strong immune response in early studies. Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc. of China said its shot induced neutralizing antibodies and proved to be safe in a study of 150 adults and elderly volunteers. The vaccine uses adjuvants — agents that boost a vaccine’s response — from both Glaxo and Dynavax Technologies Corp. Advanced-stage trials using Glaxo’s adjuvant are planned to begin this month, while studies using the Dynavax system will start in the first half of 2021, according to a statement Friday. The Clover vaccine showed long-term stability at refrigerator temperature. That would allow it to be used widely, including in developing nations.
7. U.K. Grants Five Passports a Minute to Hongkongers as China Tightens Grip
The U.K. is granting the most special travel documents to Hong Kong residents since the 1997 handover, bolstering predictions of a mass exodus as China tightens its grip over the former British colony. Some 216,398 Hong Kong residents received British National (Overseas) passports during the first 10 months of the year, higher than any annual figure stretching back to 1997. In October alone, the office issued 59,798 Hongkongers with BNOs, or 52% higher than in the same period last year, and the highest monthly figure since the Passport Office began readily compiling them in 2015. That translates to more than five every minute, based on an average eight-hour working day.
8. Europe Vaccination Plans; U.S. Sees Record Cases: Virus Update
European nations are rushing to draw up large-scale coronavirus vaccination programs, with the U.K. hoping to inoculate millions of Britons before the year is out. Sweden expects to get enough doses in the first quarter to immunize a fifth of the population and Norway sees its program starting in early 2021. Spain is aiming at vaccinating up to 20 million people by June. The U.S. posted another day of record Covid-19 infections and deaths, as overburdened hospitals around the nation brace for a surge in cases after Thanksgiving. In Asia, Japan’s Osaka prefecture raised its virus alert to the highest level following a rise in serious cases. South Korea’s number of newly confirmed cases climbed to the highest since early March.
9. BlackRock, Storebrand Pressure Indian Bank Over Coal Mining Loan
Shareholders of India’s largest bank are raising concerns about a proposed loan to Adani Enterprises Ltd. to help fund the opening of the controversial Carmichael coal mine in northern Australia. Officials from New York-based BlackRock Inc. and Norway’s Storebrand ASA have contacted the State Bank of India, which is majority-owned by the Indian government, about the loan. The loan’s value is expected to be as much as 5000 cr rupees ($678 million). The Carmichael mine has been the focus of environmental protestors since it was proposed in 2010, with demonstrations most recently at a Nov. 27 cricket match in Sydney between Australia and India. Adani changed its trading name in Australia to Bravus Mining and Resources last month, possibly to help dampen controversy about the mine, which is located in Galilee Basin in the northeastern Queensland province. The project has become a target of anger from climate-change activists in the country, which saw record temperatures and widespread wildfires this year.
10. Angry India Farmers Are ‘Ready to Die’ in Showdown With Modi
As India’s virus numbers swell and the economy stumbles, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has another crisis to deal with: Tens of thousands of angry farmers vowing to camp outside the capital for months. The farmers — mostly from Punjab, often called India’s bread-basket — want him to repeal three laws passed in September that allow them to sell crops directly to private firms instead of licensed middlemen at state-controlled markets. While Modi has said the laws will help them earn more cash, farmers fear those companies won’t give them minimum prices set by the government.