1. Treasury Yields Rise on Aid Report; Stocks Advance

Treasury yields rose with stocks on Thursday after a report suggested President-elect Joe Biden plans Covid-19 relief of about $2 trillion. Biden is expected to announce his economic support plans later in the day. Futures on the small-cap Russell 2000 Index jumped, while contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq underperformed. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index climbed, led by cyclical shares. Carrefour fell as much as 7.4% after the French government expressed opposition to Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard buying the company.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index climbed 0.1% as of early morning New York time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.4%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2%.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index increased 0.1%

2. U.S. Jobless Claims Jump by Most Since March, Approach 1 Million

Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits surged last week by the most since late March, pointing to persistent labour-market pain as coronavirus infections continue to soar and potentially adding to momentum for a larger federal stimulus plan. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 181,000 to 965,000 in the week ended Jan. 9, according to Labor Department data Thursday that showed a broad number of states with large increases. On an unadjusted basis, the figure jumped to 1.15 million.

3. China Bars Two WHO Delegates; Africa Vaccines: Virus Update

The World Health Organization’s mission to trace the origins of Covid-19 got off to a difficult start with two members of the delegation denied entry to China. China recorded its first Covid-19 death since April as new clusters continued to expand. The African Union has secured 270 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was advised to consider expanding the state of emergency to cover the entire nation. Finland reported a slight drop in infections.

4. Kushner Halts Trump Move to New Social Media After Twitter Ban

Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner stopped an effort to sign up the president on fringe social media platforms such as Gab and Parler after Twitter suspended his account last week, according to three people familiar with the matter. Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, also objected. The two men thought the alternative social media sites, which have catered to political conservatives by promising fewer restraints on speech, weren’t suitable for the U.S. president partly because they didn’t think they were well managed or could handle the traffic.

5. UBS Fund Pursues $400 Million Stake in SoftBank-Backed Paytm

UBS Group is in talks to invest $400 million in Paytm, the most valuable Indian startup, in a bet on the surging digital payments market in the world’s second-most populous country. A fund run by UBS’s asset management arm is in discussions to buy a stake in Paytm alongside some of the Swiss bank’s clients. UBS is negotiating the purchase of Paytm stock from a group of the Indian fintech company’s employees. UBS aims to finalize an agreement as soon as this month, though talks could still be delayed or fall apart. Paytm isn’t raising any new capital as part of the deal.

6. U.S. Decides Against Investing Ban on Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu

U.S. officials deliberated but ultimately decided against banning American investment in Alibaba and Tencent, removing a cloud of uncertainty over Asia’s two biggest corporations. The Treasury Department blocked a Pentagon effort to add the two internet firms on grounds they aided the military. Officials also debated blocking search leader Baidu. but dropped the plan. Alibaba’s Hong Kong stock climbed as much as 3.9% while Tencent rose almost 5% on news of the reprieve. The decision removes uncertainty hanging over Chinese social media and gaming leader Tencent and Alibaba, the e-commerce titan founded by billionaire Jack Ma that’s now under intense regulatory scrutiny by Beijing regulators.

7. Xi Asks Starbucks’s Schultz for Help Mending U.S.-China Ties

President Xi Jinping called on Starbucks to help improve China-U.S. ties, striking a business-friendly tone as the Biden administration prepares to take over in Washington. “I hope Starbucks will make active efforts to promote China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation and the development of bilateral relations,” Xi said in reply to a letter from Chairman Emeritus Howard Schultz. “China has embarked on a new journey of comprehensively building a modern socialist country, which will provide a broader space for companies from all over the world, including Starbucks and other American companies, to develop in China,” Xi wrote.

8. French Realtors See 2021 Housing Slowdown as Covid Hits Economy

French real estate agents expect housing transactions to fall about 8% this year as economic uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic causes sellers to hesitate and makes it harder for some buyers to obtain financing. Sales of existing homes in France are forecast to fall to 900,000, the lowest in five years, from 980,000 in 2020. Low-interest rates will continue to bolster home prices, while household confidence and the economy will be key to the number of transactions. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has predicted a difficult first quarter for the French economy with a significant rebound possible in the second half.

9. Abu Dhabi’s ADIO to Set Up Offices in U.S., Europe, Asia

State-run Abu Dhabi Investment Office plans to set up operations in eight locations abroad as it seeks to attract foreign investments into the oil-rich emirate. The offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Seoul, Beijing and Tel Aviv will be tasked with enabling companies around the world to operate in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi, home to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, will bet on attracting technology firms and skilled workers to help its economy rebound in 2021. Abu Dhabi Investment Office struck several deals last year — for investments in technology to startups. 

10. Oman Readies Third Bond Sale Since October to Plug Deficit

Oman is back in the debt market for the third time in less than three months, taking advantage of investors’ appetite for yield to help plug the Gulf Arab region’s widest budget deficit. The largest oil exporter outside of OPEC is selling benchmark bonds in tranches, with books set to close on Thursday. The initial price thoughts for the 10-year notes are around 6.625% and at between 7.625% and 7.75% for the 30-year securities. It is tapping its 2025 bond at 4.875%. Oman may need to borrow about $4.2 billion this year to cover a fiscal shortfall that has swelled after lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic battered the finances of one of the Gulf’s weakest sovereigns.