The market year ended on an upbeat note, with US stocks posting another solid gain for the week and the month, and finishing at fresh record highs. The year was not as good for European bourses as the DAX eked out a 3.5% gain, while the CAC and FTSE were down double digit percentages, handing the UK market its worst showing since the 2008 financial crisis. That may reflect Britain’s long, drawn out Brexit negotiation that led to late stage concessions to get a deal approved by Parliament in the closing moments of the year. Meanwhile in the Washington, a government shutdown was avoided as President Trump reversed course and signed the budget and coronavirus relief bill into law on Sunday. The prospects for boosting the aid package for US consumers dwindled as Senate Republicans sandbagged Trump’s late push to raise direct payments to $2,000 per person. The Senate also prepared to override the President’s veto of the NDAA defense policy bill, just days ahead of a vote in Georgia to determine which party will control the upper house, as well as Congress’ certification of the 2020 Electoral College result.
Good news about another Covid vaccine gaining approval in the UK was somewhat dampened by reports of problems in the early stages of distributing the existing vaccines on a mass scale even as many commercial logistics chains were still overwhelmed with holiday ecommerce shipments. The new, more easily spread Covid variant, first detected in the UK, began to pop up in more places amid many western nations logging spikes in new infections. Currency markets saw cable rise to its best levels of the year during the final session, while the dollar index was modestly lower on the week. Gold gained slightly on the week, while WTI crude maintained its place in the high $40’s/bbl. For the week, the S&P gained 1.4%, the DJIA was up 1.4%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.7%. For the year, the S&P added 16.3% and the Nasdaq surged 43.6%.
In corporate news this holiday-shortened week, Dan Loeb’s Third Point reportedly disclosed it had built a $1B (0.5%) stake Intel and urged the tech giant to explore strategic alternatives, including a 'potential divestment of certain failed acquisitions’. AstraZeneca confirmed its COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized by UK regulators for emergency supply, as had been speculated. The Chinese government called on Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to pare down his finance business, as the country ramps up its regulatory scrutiny of the billionaire’s tech empire.
Happy New Year!
SUN 12/27 (US) President Trump: Signed coronavirus bill with message "Wasteful items" to be removed
MON 12/28 (US) FAA to issue rules that allow for small drones to fly over people and at night hours; will also require remote ID for most drones (US) Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues final rules for Unmanned Aircraft (UA), commonly known as drones (US) House gives bipartisan support for increased COVID checks to $2,000 (from $600), will move to Senate now
TUES 12/29 (HK) Macau Nov Hotel Occupancy Rate: 43.9% v 40.0% prior (US) Nevada reports Nov casino gaming Rev $771.2M, -17.8% y/y; Las Vegas strip Rev $349.8M, -32.5% y/y INTC Third Point (Loeb) in letter reportedly urges Intel to explore strategic alternatives including 'potential divestment of certain failed acquisitions' - press (US) Colorado Gov Polis: have seen confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K.; man is in his 20s with no travel history has tested positive
WEDS 12/30 PFE California ER nurse tests positive for COVID a week after getting Pfizer vaccine - NY Post AZN Confirms AZD1222 COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized by UK regulator for emergency supply (as speculated) (UK) Labour Leader Starmer: Thin EU trade deal is better than no deal, little protection for services in EU deal (FI) ECB's Rehn (Finland): ECB continues to monitor the Euro exchange rate very closely - German press *(US) NOV PENDING HOME SALES M/M: -2.6% V 0.0%E; Y/Y: 16.0% V 21.0%E (US) Association of American Railroads weekly rail traffic report for week ending Dec 26th: 405.1K, +8.4% y/y *(CN) CHINA DEC MANUFACTURING PMI (GOVT OFFICIAL): 51.9 V 52.0E
THURS 12/31 *(US) INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS: 787K V 835KE; CONTINUING CLAIMS: 5.22M V 5.39ME