Business News


As it looks to keep up with global financial innovation, and preserve dollar supremacy, the Federal Reserve has finally released a long-awaited paper discussing the pros and cons of a potential U.S. central bank digital currency. While the 40-page document doesn't take a stance on any specific policy, it will open the discussion between the central bank and stakeholders, as well as solicit public comment. Some upsides include faster and safer payment options, though risks like privacy protection and financial stability would have to be addressed.

Fears of a Netflix slowdown sent shares cratering 20% AH on Thursday, erasing $45B of market value as investors prepare for a new phase of slower growth. While the streaming giant beat on both the top and bottom lines, and reported just over 8mm global paid net subscriber additions in Q4, its guidance is what really hit sentiment. It would also mark the slowest start to a new year for the company in at least a decade.

Things don't appear to be getting better for the Nasdaq, which fell deeper into correction territory on Thursday, and is now down nearly 5% this week.  Peloton, the once-celebrated pandemic favorite is temporarily halting production of its connected fitness products due to slowing demand. Shares of Peloton plunged on the news, falling 24%, below its IPO price.

 



Technology stocks are officially in correction territory after yesterday's late Wall Street selloff. The tech and growth focused Nasdaq 100 fell more than 1% in the previous session, bringing the decline from its high to 10.2%, the typical definition of a correction. By comparison, the S&P 500 is down 6%.


Joe Biden backed the Federal Reserve’s shift towards tighter monetary policy to fight inflation, using his first formal press conference in months to defend his handling of the economy.  In a contradictory stance, he also argued for more deficit spending, but he acknowledged that his $1.75tn flagship “Build Back Better” legislation would probably have to be broken up into pieces to pass Congress.  The President noted the widespread concern among people about the enduring pandemic and the messy economic recovery.


Wall Street’s leading banks increased pay by nearly 15 per cent last year as they fought a war for talent that is expected to drag on as long as dealmaking remains buoyant. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America disclosed in recent days that they had handed out $142bn in pay and benefits in 2021, up from $124bn in 2020.



Us Stocks sold off yesterday as yields in the bond market hit a 2 year high, while the price of oil hit a 7 year high.

Builders in the single-family housing market are facing growing expenses, which is causing a turnaround in sentiment to start the year.  Builder confidence fell one point to 83 in January, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Anything above 50 is considered positive, but that is the first drop in four months. The index also stood at 83 in January 2021.  “Higher material costs and lack of availability are adding weeks to typical single-family construction times. “NAHB analysis indicates the aggregate cost of residential construction materials has increased almost 19% since December 2020.”

Microsoft announced plans to buy video game giant Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal.  The price means Microsoft will pay $95 per share for Activision. Shares of Activision soared 27% following the news while Microsoft’s stock fell less than 1%. This would be Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date, followed by its purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion.  Activision, which is known for popular games such as Call of Duty and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, has been mired in controversy for the last several months after reports of sexual misconduct and harassment among the company’s executives. On Monday, Activision said it fired dozens of executives following an investigation.



Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 22.4% in the fourth quarter, according to data from Refinitiv, which would wrap up a record year where overall earnings soared around 49%. Meanwhile, 26 S&P 500 firms have already reported Q4 results, with 77% of them posting bottom-line results that beat analyst expectations. Reporting this week is Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, UnitedHealth, Procter & Gamble, Netflix, and Honeywell.

 

Fresh data out of China has shown economic growth slowing to a 4% pace in the fourth quarter, from 4.9% Y/Y growth in the Q3, weighed down by property market crisis and new coronavirus outbreaks. While that exceeded economists' forecasts, it was short of the 6.5% growth recorded over the same period in 2020.  Following the data, the People's Bank of China cut key interest rates for the first time since the peak of the pandemic in 2020.

 

Oil prices have breached $87 a barrel and hit a more than seven-year high, threatening to propel global inflation higher. The price for Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was up 1.3 per cent to $87.63 a barrel, the highest since October 2014. West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, which has risen more than 13 per cent since the start of year.



According to the Commerce Department Retail Sales fell much more than expected in December as surging prices took a big bite out of spending.  Excluding autos, retail sales fell 2.3%.  Considering that the sales numbers are not adjusted for inflation, the data point to a slow ending to what had otherwise been a strong 2021 in which sales rose 16.9%.

Earlier in the week we got the inflation data at the consumer level showing inflation increasing by 7% year over year.  Yesterday we got the inflation rate at the wholesale, or producer level.  The producer price index, which measures prices received by producers of goods, services and construction, was up 0.2% for the month of December.  However, on a 12-month basis, the index was up 9.7% to end 2021, the highest calendar-year increase ever in data going back to 2010.

Shares of Ford jumped higher as the automaker’s market cap topped $100 billion for the first time ever. The rally comes as the company plans to increase electric vehicle production, including the Mustang Mach-E crossover and an upcoming electric version of their best-selling F-150 pickup. Deutsche Bank also named Ford one of their top 2022 stock pick.



Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance rose unexpectedly for a second consecutive week to the highest in two months, suggesting that the recent surge in Covid-19 cases could be leading to dismissals.  Initial unemployment claims totaled 230,000 in the week ended Jan. 8, up 23,000 from the prior period.

US Consumer prices rose the most in 40 years in December on a year over year basis rising 7%.  Energy, shelter, vehicles, apparel, and household furnishings all saw double digit increases.  Inflation can be described as death by a thousand cuts as it slowly eats away consumers’ buying power.

Mortgage rates have moved to their highest level in almost 2 years, and that may have potential homebuyers nervous that their affordability window is closing faster than expected.  Home prices are still gaining, and winter is historically the slowest season for the housing market, but mortgage demand from buyers moved higher. This, as the average interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances increased to 3.52% from 3.33%, for loans with a 20% down payment. That is the highest rate since March 2020. It was 64 basis points higher the same week one year ago.



Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress yesterday that if the pace of price increases do not come down, the central bank will get more aggressive with raising short-term borrowing costs.  Powell said “If we see inflation persisting at high levels, longer than expected, we will have to raise interest rates more over time.  Powell is facing the Senate for his renomination for a second term running the nation’s central bank.

Inflation rose at its fastest 12-month pace in nearly 40 years during December, according to a closely watched gauge from the Labor Department.  The consumer price index, a gauge that measures costs across dozens of items, increased 7%, according to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a monthly basis, CPI increased 0.5%.

Shares of Boeing are higher after they reported sales and deliveries of new planes surged last year as customers looked beyond the pandemic’s toll on travel demand, but the manufacturer still ended 2021 behind chief rival Airbus.  Boeing handed over 340 jetliners to airlines and other buyers, up from 157 in 2020.  The deliveries were led largely by the 737 Max, which regulators worldwide had grounded for nearly two years after a fatal crash in 2018 and another in 2019.  The increase in deliveries was welcome news for Boeing, which has struggled in the wake of crashes, the pandemic and manufacturing issues.



U.S. wholesale inventories increased more than expected in December, suggesting that the restocking of warehouses likely contributed strongly to economic growth last quarter.  The broad increase in inventories reported by the Commerce Department also offered more hope that supply bottlenecks were easing.

High inflation is enemy No. 1 for the first time since 1981, small businesses say.  Some 22% of small-business owners said inflation is their top problem, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. That’s the biggest share in 41 years.  The yearly pace of U.S. inflation likely crossed the 7% mark in December, based on the consumer price index. The last time that happened was in early 1982.  Yet even as they struggle with high prices, small businesses also said they were slightly more optimistic. The NFIB’s small-business optimism index rose 0.5 points to a three-month high of 98.9.

Shares of the mobile gaming company Zynga soared more than 40% after Take-Two Interactive, another gaming company, revealed plans to buy Zynga for $12.7 billion, or $9.86 a share, in a cash and stock deal. That’s a roughly 64% premium to Zynga’s closing price Friday. Shares of Take-Two tumbled by 13.1%.



Stocks started the first trading week of 2022 lower with growth stocks sharply lower after interest rates rose when the Federal Reserve signaled they could dial back their easy monetary policy more aggressively than some expected. Minutes from the Fed’s December meeting showed the central bank is planning to shrink their balance sheet in addition to hiking rates.

Mortgage rates rose markedly in the first week of 2022 — potentially setting the tone for a year in which economist expect interest rates to move steadily higher.  The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.22%.  This is the highest level for the benchmark mortgage rate since May 2020.  The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, meanwhile, rose 10 basis points to an average of 2.43%. 

According to the Federal Reserve U.S. consumer credit soared by $40 billion in December, more than double expectations.  That translated into an 11% annual gain — the largest move in a single month in 20 years.  Revolving credit, such as credit cards, rose at a 23.4% rate.  That’s the highest rate since April 1998.  The jump may reflect households using credit more freely. During the pandemic, many households curtailed their credit card debt or used stimulus funds to pay down balances.



The U.S. economy added far fewer jobs than expected in December just as the nation was grappling with a massive surge in Covid cases, the Labor Department said this morning.  Nonfarm payrolls grew by 199,000, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That decline came even though the labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.9% amid an ongoing labor shortage in the U.S.

The current wave of pseudo-media consolidation is picking up speed following Vox's merger with Group Nine and BuzzFeed's purchase of Complex. The latest deal will see The New York Times (NYT) scoop up sports subscription site The Athletic for $550M, with the all-cash transaction expected to close in the first quarter. Also don't forget about Dotdash's acquisition of Meredith's National Media Group in October, as well as Axel Springer's purchase of Politico.

 

Uranium prices have jumped this week as violent protests in Kazakhstan stoke concerns about security of supply for the radioactive material used to fuel nuclear reactors. The metal was resurgent last year, rising by more than 30 per cent as investors bet nuclear energy will be a key part of the move away from fossil fuels and the electrification of the global economy.



A new era of monetary policy is starting to hit investors in the face after previously beliefs that any tightening would be limited and gradual. FOMC minutes released on Wednesday showed that officials were fully on board with a faster scale back of the central bank's asset purchase program, which would give it greater flexibility to raise interest rates.  Stocks tanked on the news, with the Nasdaq ending the day down more than 3% for the worst start to a calendar year since the financial crisis.  Investors are showing a preference for businesses that actually make money, a positive for us all.

Products worth $112B-$114B could be returned to U.S. retailers after the holiday season, up from $100B in 2020 and $95B in 2019, according to a forecast from liquidation inventory company B-Stock Solutions. UPS also estimates it will handle more than 60M return packages through Jan. 22, a 10% increase from the previous year.

Investors poured a record $330bn into private start-ups in the US last year, almost double the total from 2020, in a flurry of dealmaking that rapidly inflated company valuations and gave leverage to founders as venture capitalists competed with other deep-pocketed investors for deals.



The first trading day of 2022 resulted in a historic day for the U.S. stock market as Apple became the first company in history to reach a valuation of $3T. The tech giant crossed the market cap milestone in afternoon trading, with shares climbing nearly 3% to $182.88 apiece. Lifting investor confidence was the belief that Apple will keep launching best-selling products as it explores new markets like self-driving electric cars, augmented-reality glasses and possibly the Metaverse. The only other company that is currently in Apple's market cap ballpark is Microsoft, which has a valuation of $2.5T.

A federal jury late Monday convicted disgraced former Therano CEO Elizabeth Holmes on four of 11 counts that her once-hot biotech startup swindled investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. The failed blood-testing firm was worth about $9B at its peak, reportedly giving Holmes a $4.5B net worth at the time, but was dissolved in 2018 after facing regulatory investigations.

Hedge funds gained 8.7 per cent on average during 2021, according to data provider HFR. That marks their third consecutive year of gains, but trails by some distance the US S&P 500 index’s 27 per cent total return over that period.



U.S. consumer confidence improved further in December, suggesting the economy will continue to expand in 2022 despite a resurgence in COVID infections and reduced fiscal stimulus.  The survey from the Conference Board showed more consumers planned to buy a house and big-ticket items such as motor vehicles and major household appliances as well as go on vacation over the next six months. Inflation concerns eased a bit and households remained upbeat about the labor market.  This will likely help to underpin consumer spending even as government income to households is diminishing.

Sales of previously owned homes in November rose 1.9% from October to 6.46 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were 2.0% lower than November 2020.  These sales reflect home closings, so contracts that were likely signed in September and October.  Regionally, month-to-month, sales in the Northeast were unchanged. In the Midwest, they rose 0.7% and in the South they rose 2.9%. In the West, sales increased 2.3%.  Sales likely increased due to a strengthening job market and concerns among potential buyers that mortgage rates will be significantly higher next year.  There were 1.11 million homes for sale at the end of November, down 13% year over year. At the current sales pace that represents a 2.1-month supply.

The Biden administration extended a student loan moratorium that has allowed millions of Americans to put off debt payments during the pandemic.  Under the action, payments on federal student loans will remain paused through May 1. Interest rates will remain at 0% during that period, and debt collection efforts will be suspended. Those measures have been in place since early in the pandemic, but were set to expire Jan. 31.



The major stock averages rebounded sharply yesterday following three days of losses.  Reopening plays, like airlines, cruise lines and entertainment stocks, saw relief buying yesterday.

 

Shares of Rite Aid are rallying more than 16% after they reported a quarterly profit of 15 cents per share, smashing analysts’ expectations for a quarterly loss of 32 cents per share. The drugstore chain also announced a store-closure program where they expect to close 63 underperforming stores in the coming months.

 

The aircraft maker Boeing’s shares rose 5% after UPS placed and order for 19 of the company’s 767 freighters. Boeing was also named a top stock pick for 2022 by a few investment banks, saying they sees free cash flow improving dramatically.

 

According to CNBC the average professional Santa Claus makes between $5,000 and $8,000 during the holiday season, with the best ones making as much as $20,000.
 



US Stocks sold off yesterday following a week where all 3 major US averages lost about 2%.  Travel and Restaurant stocks were the biggest loser as investors worry about the impact of the new COVID variant on the economy.


The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased by 1.1 percent in November following a 0.9 percent increase in October.  The U.S. LEI rose sharply again in November, suggesting the current economic expansion will continue into the first half of 2022.  Inflation and continuing supply chain disruptions, as well as a resurgence of COVID-19, pose risks to GDP growth in 2022. Still, the economic impact of these risks may be contained. The Conference Board forecasts real GDP growth to strengthen in Q4 2021 to about 6.5 percent (annualized rate), before moderating to a still healthy rate of 2.2 percent in Q1 2022.


Spider-Man made even more money than originally projected.  Spider-Man: No Way Home, the latest movie in the Marvel series, notched a record-breaking opening weekend at the domestic box office by bringing in $260 million.  Only 2019's Avengers: Endgame, one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, opened to larger numbers.
 



U.S. homebuilding surged to an eight-month high in November amid an acute shortage of properties on the market, though higher prices for raw materials and labor shortages remain a constraint.  Housing starts increased 11.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.679 million units last month, the highest level since March.  Permits for future homebuilding increased 3.6% to a rate of 1.712 million units in November.  Starts dropped from the 1.725 million unit-pace scaled in March, which was more than a 14-1/2-year high as builders struggled with shortages and more expensive raw materials.  Nonresidential construction input prices increased by nearly 25% in the 12 months through November, according to producer price data released this week. There is a huge backlog of houses authorized for construction but not yet started.  A survey from the National Association of Home Builders on Wednesday showed confidence among single-family homebuilders rose for a fourth straight month in December, but noted that “finding workers, predicting pricing and dealing with material delays remains a challenge.

 

New business formation climbed sharply in Oregon as the pandemic recession eased, with entrepreneurs leaping in to start new companies this year at an unprecedented rate.  Oregonians started an average of 4,100 businesses each month over the past year, an increase of more than 25% from the same period in the 12 months before the pandemic, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s the fastest pace in the 17 years for which the government has Oregon numbers.

 



Federal Reserve officials expect to raise interest rates three times next year as the US central bank adopts a more aggressive approach to tame the highest levels of inflation for decades. The more hawkish interest rate forecasts were published alongside a plan to double the pace at which the Fed “tapers” the huge bond-buying program it put in place at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It will begin cutting purchases by $30bn a month in January, putting it on track to stop adding to the size of its balance sheet by the end of March — several months earlier than initially expected — and begin to raise interest rates in the months thereafter.


FedEx has laid bare the scale of the online shopping boom in the run-up to the US holiday season peak, reporting its highest quarterly sales on record after the logistics group handled millions of additional packages and implemented surcharges on shipments. Earnings released on Thursday showed FedEx Ground, the company’s small-package ground delivery business in North America, handled an average of 12.3m packages every day in the three months to the end of November, up from 9.6m for the same period a year ago.

 

McDonald’s announced Thursday it has settled its lawsuit against former CEO Steve Easterbrook, clawing back his severance payment valued at $105 million. The fast-food giant first brought a suit against its disgraced former chief executive in August 2020, claiming that he lied during the company’s internal probe into his behavior before his firing.



The National Federal of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index increased slightly by 0.2 points to 98.4.  As the end of the year nears, the outlook for business conditions is not encouraging to small business owners as lawmakers propose additional mandates and tax increases.   Owners are also pessimistic as many continue managing challenges like rampant inflation and supply chain disruptions that are impacting their businesses right now.  Small business owners continue to struggle to increase their workforce with 10% of owners citing labor costs as their top business problem and 29% said that labor quality was their top business problem, a 48-year record high.

 

Oregon job growth picked up in November, with the state adding another 10,000 jobs. That’s more than double last month’s total and 50% above the state’s pace in the prior six months. The numbers are a heartening sign for the state’s economy and suggests that Oregon’s recovery from the pandemic continues, though some sectors like leisure and hospitality remain severely diminished. The state has now recovered 4 out of every 5 jobs lost to the pandemic. Oregon’s unemployment rate fell last month to 4.2%, matching the national rate. November was the 19th consecutive month the state’s jobless rate has declined. It’s now back near pre-pandemic levels, near the lowest point on record.



Prices at the wholesale level surged by a record 9.6% in November from a year earlier, an indication of on-going inflation pressures.  The Labor Department said their producer price index, which measures inflation before it reaches consumers, rose 0.8% in November after a 0.6% monthly gain in October. It was the highest monthly reading in four months.  The 12-month increase in wholesale inflation set a new record, surpassing the old records for 12-month increases of 8.6% set in both September and October.

 

Shares of the motorcycle maker Harley Davidson jumped about 7% after the company announced their electric motorcycle unit, Livewire, will go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. The deal is valued at about $1.8 billion and will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “LVW.”

 

Shares of the vaccine maker Pfizer jumped more than 4% after a new Israeli study showed its Covid booster shot provides strong protection against severe illness from the omicron variant. Its partner BioNTech saw shares jump about 8.2% on the news. Separately, the company announced it will acquire drug developer Arena Pharmaceuticals for $6.7 billion in cash.  Arena’s shares soared by 79%.
 



US Stocks posted their best week since last February with the S&P 500 reaching a new all-time-high.

 

According to the Labor Department Inflation accelerated at its fastest pace since 1982 in November, putting pressure on the economic recovery and raising the stakes for the Federal Reserve.  The consumer price index, which measures the cost of a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, rose 0.8% in November, good for a 6.8% pace on a year over year basis and the fastest rate since June 1982.  This will undoubtably put pressure on the Federal Reserve which meets this week and announces their plans for interest rates and monetary policy.  The markets will be watching closely on Wednesday for indications about how soon they might raise interest rates.

 

The University of Michigan's preliminary take on current month Consumer Sentiment showed the consumer's mood brightening.  The index's December reading unexpectedly gained 3 points to a print of 70.4, moving in the opposite direction than economists predicted.  What was most interesting, was the substantially brightened mood among the survey's lowest-earning respondents



Inflation accelerated at its fastest pace since 1982 in November, the Labor Department said Friday, putting pressure on the economic recovery and raising the stakes for the Federal Reserve. The consumer price index, which measures the cost of a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, rose 0.8% for the month, good for a 6.8% pace on a year over year basis and the fastest rate since June 1982. 

A Starbucks store in Buffalo has become the first location in the country to unionize after employees voted by a margin of 19 to 8 to join the Workers United Union. Two other stores in the region also voted on Thursday, but one said no, while results at the third location weren't conclusive. Never in the coffee chain's 50-year history has it relied on union workers to serve up its lattes among its 9,000 corporate-run stores across the U.S.

Shares of Oracle are up more than 13% during trading this morning after the company reported earnings and revenue that beat analyst estimates. It’s set to add about $33 billion to its market cap, bringing it to about $275 billion. The company reported over $10 billion in revenue during the quarter.
 



The Big Four accounting firms have recorded their strongest financial performance since the collapse of Enron as corporate clients rushed to transform their businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. In aggregate, the leading pack, which includes Deloitte, EY and PwC, will have racked up $167.3bn in revenue for the financial year ended 2021, a 7 per cent increase. It is the strongest collective result since the Enron scandal led to the collapse of Arthur Andersen in 2002 and reduced the Big Five to the Big Four.

 

Weekly jobless claims reached tumbled last week, reaching a fresh 52-year low as the U.S. jobs market climbs out of its pandemic-era hole, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Initial filings for unemployment insurance totaled 184,000 for the week ended Dec. 4, the lowest going back to Sept. 6, 1969, which saw 182,000.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic last year drove the biggest increase in death benefits paid by U.S. life insurers since the 1918 influenza epidemic, an industry trade group said. Death-benefit payments rose 15.4% in 2020 to $90.43 billion, mostly due to the pandemic, according to the American Council of Life Insurers. Covid-19 also spurred the fastest rise in sales of insurance policies in 25 years



China's crackdown on its technology sector looks set to continue following nearly a year of unwieldy regulatory efforts. It all began in November 2020, when Jack Ma's Ant Group was forced to cancel what would have been the world's largest IPO. Regulatory efforts then turned to data security and protection - with large fines imposed on Alibaba and culminated in a NYSE delisting announcement last week by DiDi Global.  China is now said to be drawing up a blacklist that will make it harder for new technology companies to raise foreign funding and list overseas. The blacklist could be published as early as this month.

Coffee prices on futures markets have rallied to a 10-year high, with companies and traders dashing to lock in supplies as they contend with shipping bottlenecks and a late-year rise in demand. Traders are turning to futures, products that allow them to secure deliveries at a set price, on concerns they may be unable to obtain adequate stockpiles on the “physical market” where they can be more selective about the product they will receive.

Americans plan to spend with gusto this holiday season despite concerns about the economy and inflation and worries that supply bottlenecks might delay the arrival of their gifts.The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds that individuals, on average, plan to spend $1,004 on gifts, up 13% from the pandemic-depressed number last year, and the highest number since 2018.
 



Stocks rallied to start to the week yesterday, with the Dow erasing its losses from last week, as investors shook off fears around the emerging threat of omicron.  Shares linked to the economic reopening gained the most yesterday, including energy, industrials and airlines.  Investors continued to sell tech stocks with relatively high valuations. 

A major shift is underway at the Federal Reserve to begin to remove the central bank’s massive pandemic easing policies and could see them hike rates sooner than is priced in by markets.  Comments by Fed officials suggest the central bank is likely to decide to double the pace of its taper to $30 billion a month at their December meeting next week. Initial discussions could also begin as soon as the December meeting about when to raise interest rates and by how much next year with Fed officials set to submit a fresh round of economic forecasts and projections for the fed funds rate.

Inflation in Europe last month was the highest it has been in over 30 years.  The eurozone saw inflation increase by 5% led higher by energy.  It will be interesting to see what the European Central Bank does at their next meeting knowing the Germans fear inflation the most.



Stocks were lower last week as investors digest the change in policy stance from the Federal reserve and a new strain of COVID.  The heavy selling in technology stocks extended to the crypto currency universe where prices also dropped.  Bitcoin dropped sharply over the weekend, trading below $50,000.

A measure of U.S. services industry activity unexpectedly rose in November, hitting a fresh record high as businesses boosted hiring, but there was little sign that supply constraints were easing and prices remained high.  The Institute for Supply Management said their non-manufacturing activity index increased to 69 last month, the highest reading since the series started in 1997.  This index is important because the services sector accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

New orders for U.S.-made goods increased more than expected in October and businesses spending on equipment appeared to rebound after declining in the third quarter.  The Commerce Department said that factory orders increased 1.0% in October. Data for September was revised higher to show orders gaining 0.5% instead of 0.2% as previously reported.  Factory orders increased 17.1% on a year-on-year basis.    Manufacturing, which accounts for 12% of the economy, is being driven by still-strong demand for goods despite spending shifting back to services.
 


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