1. Global Stocks Fall on Virus Fears
A global stock rally powered by hopes that new Covid-19 vaccines will bolster economic growth halted on Tuesday as investors weighed the near-term spread of the virus. S&P 500 futures retreated a day after the underlying benchmark closed at an all-time high on Monday. Contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 outperformed. Travel shares and banks led a decline in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. The pound rose on signs the U.K. and European Union are nearing a breakthrough on Brexit as early next week.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index fell 0.5% as of early morning New York time.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 0.4%.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.2%.
The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell 0.2%.
2. America Locks Down From Atlantic to Pacific as Covid Rages
In a matter of days, America’s long effort to revive its virus-battered economy has been put on pause — or thrown into reverse — as new infections soar at the fastest pace since the pandemic’s earliest days. California on Monday reinstituted bans on many indoor businesses, and its governor warned he may impose a curfew. Michigan has ordered a three-week partial shutdown, while states including Oregon, Washington and New Jersey tightened curbs. The new restrictions follow a rapid surge in cases — with the country adding a million infections in the first 10 days of November alone — that has led health officials to issue dire warnings about the prospect of uncontrollable outbreaks as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.
3. France’s Bars, Restaurants May Stay Closed Until Mid-January
French bars and restaurants will remain closed until mid-January as the government tries to tamp down the resurgent coronavirus outbreak. The government closed non-essential businesses at the end of October as the number of virus cases surged, with a goal to reopen shops on Dec. 1 if health conditions permit. Prime Minister Jean Castex made clear that didn’t apply to bars and restaurants, however, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Tuesday in an interview on France 2 television. Government officials will review the situation for bars and restaurants next month, he said when asked about the France Info report of a Jan. 15 re-opening.
4. America’s Zombie Companies Have Racked Up $1.4 Trillion of Debt
From Boeing, Carnival and Delta Air Lines to Exxon Mobil and Macy’s, many of the nation’s most iconic companies aren’t earning enough to cover their interest expenses (a key criterion, as most market experts define it, for zombie status). Almost 200 corporations have joined the ranks of so-called zombie firms since the onset of the pandemic. In fact, zombies now account for nearly 20% of publicly-traded firms. Even starker, they’ve added almost $1 trillion (INR 75 lakh cr) of debt to their balance sheets in the span, more than double zombie companies owed at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis. The Federal Reserve’s effort to stave off a rash of bankruptcies by purchasing corporate bonds might very well have prevented another depression. But in helping hundreds of ailing companies gain virtually unfettered access to credit markets, policymakers may inadvertently be directing the flow of capital to unproductive firms, depressing employment and growth for years to come.
5. Brexit Negotiators Zero In on a Deal as Soon as Next Week
The U.K. and European Union could strike a deal on their future trading and security relationship early next week as the two sides edge closer to an agreement on the biggest sticking points. As talks continue in Brussels, officials are planning for the possibility of a breakthrough to be announced as soon as Monday, although no precise day has been settled on. They also warned that there was still the potential for the negotiations to collapse, with the two sides still some way apart on the familiar stumbling blocks that have plagued the talks since they started in March. Getting a deal will still need the U.K. to make big political decisions over whether it is prepared to compromise, particularly on the thorny topic of access to British fishing waters.
6. Tesla to Join S&P 500 Next Month as Largest-Ever New Member
Tesla, Elon Musk’s 17-year-old upstart carmaker, took a giant step toward blue-chip respectability on Monday, getting named to one of the world’s most famous stock indexes in an action that will greatly broaden its investor base. The announcement that Tesla will enter the S&P 500 on Dec. 21 follows months of speculation. The anticipation has helped drive a nearly fivefold rally in the stock this year to almost $390 billion. It will also be one of the index’s most influential constituents with a weighting that falls around those of Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. Tesla shares jumped 12% in premarket trading.
7. China Gives Long Explanation for Pummeling Australia on Trade
China gave one of its most detailed explanations yet for souring ties with Australia, calling on the nation to stop trying to impose its will on others. “Looking back on China-Australia relations in the past few years, we see some people in Australia adhere to a Cold War mentality and harbour ideological prejudice, regard China’s development as a threat, and have then made a series of wrong moves related to China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told. Ties between the two key trading partners have been strained since 2018 when Australia banned Huawei from building its 5G network. But relations have really been in the deep freeze since Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in April led calls for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak — a move that bruised China’s pride and unleashed a torrent of criticism that Australia is a puppet of the U.S.
8. BofA Says Market Is So Bullish It’s Time to Sell on Vaccine News
Fund managers overseeing $526 billion are the most bullish they’ve been this year following the U.S. election outcome and progress on a vaccine, prompting a call from Bank of America Corp. strategists that it’s time to start selling risk assets. Cash holdings plunged to the lowest level since April 2015, while economic growth expectations surged to a 20-year high. Investors snapped up more volatile assets, such as small-caps, value, banks and emerging-market stocks, while shifting away from bonds and staples. But with the S&P 500 hitting a record high, fund managers face a moment of reckoning on whether it’s worth taking profit or staying invested for potentially even more returns.
9. Amazon opens online pharmacy, shaking up another industry
The company opened an online pharmacy Tuesday, giving Amazon shoppers the chance to buy their medication and order refills on their phones and have it delivered to their doorsteps in a couple of days. The move propels Amazon into a new business, potentially shaking up the pharmacy industry as it has done to everything from booksellers to toy stores and grocers. Big chains like CVS and Walgreens rely on their pharmacies to bring them a steady flow of shoppers who stop by frequently to pick up their medications. Amazon said it will offer commonly prescribed medications starting Tuesday, including creams, pills, as well as medications that need to stay cold, like insulin. Shoppers have to set up a profile on Amazon’s website and have doctors send prescriptions to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant. Most insurance is accepted, Amazon said. But Prime members who don’t have insurance can also buy generic or brand name drugs from Amazon for a discount.
10. DBS to Allow Employees to Work Remotely for up to 40% of Time
All employees at DBS Group will be granted the flexibility to work remotely up to 40% of the time to address the “massive changes” brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company’s Future of Work task force found that more than four in five of its 29,000 staff were able to work seamlessly remotely. However, some expressed that they preferred a hybrid work arrangement, which allowed them to stay engaged with colleagues. The bank will also introduce a formal job-sharing scheme to give greater support to employees who need more flexibility. Under the scheme, two employees will be able to share the responsibilities of one full-time role. More part-time work arrangements will also be introduced.