Stocks hover near record highs
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are wobbling in morning trading on Wall Street as investors continue to balance hope for additional aid from Washington with a spike in virus cases that continues holding back a broad economic recovery. The S&P 500 is hovering just below its record high, a day after a broad rally pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 index to record highs. Fresh signs of cooperation on a new round of financial stimulus helped boost optimism as more signs emerge that the economic recovery is stalling.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Top congressional leaders appear to be on the brink of a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package. A deal could come as early as today on legislation that would extend help to individuals and businesses and ship coronavirus vaccines to millions. Negotiations on COVID-19 relief have intensified this week after months of futility. The top Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress met twice yesterday in hopes of finally cementing an agreement that would revive subsidies for businesses hit hard by the pandemic, help distribute new coronavirus vaccines, fund schools and renew soon-to-expire jobless benefits.
NEW YORK (AP) – Retail sales fell 1.1% in November, the biggest drop in seven months, a sign that Americans held back on spending during the start of the holiday shopping season. The Commerce Department also revised October’s number, saying that retail sales actually fell 0.1% that month, instead of rising 0.3% as it previously reported. Americans have cut back on spending after losing a $600 weekly boost to unemployment checks that expired over the summer. A surge in coronavirus infections nationwide is also keeping Americans from spending.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Treasury Department has branded Vietnam and Switzerland as currency manipulators. It also put China and nine other countries on a watch list in an annual report designed to halt countries from manipulating their currencies to gain unfair trade advantages. It’s the first time that the United States has labeled another country as a currency manipulator since August 2019 when it called out China. The Treasury report says Vietnam and Switzerland were the only two countries that met all three criteria for being named a currency manipulator. The designation will trigger special negotiations over the next year. If they are not successful in resolving the currency complaint, the United States can move forward to impose economic sanctions on Vietnam and Switzerland.
BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union is revamping its dated cybersecurity rules, just days after data on a new coronavirus vaccine was unlawfully accessed in a hack attack on the European Medicines Agency. The current regulations date from 2008 and the European Commission wants to update them and give them some teeth, including fines for operators who break the rules. EU infrastructure was hit by around 450 cyber incidents last year. The reforms unveiled Wednesday include a plan to beef up cyber sanctions against countries, people and organizations.