World shares mostly higher…COVID relief threatened
UNDATED (AP) – Shares were mostly higher in thin Christmas Eve trading today, despite President Donald Trump’s threat not to sign a major economic stimulus package approved by Congress this week. The Shanghai Composite index closed 0.6% lower. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.5% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.2% higher. In South Korea, the Kospi climbed 1.7%. In early trading, the CAC 40 in Paris edged 0.1% higher and Britain’s FTSE 100 was nearly unchanged. Germany’s markets were closed. On Wall Street, S&P and Dow futures are each up 0.2%.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s new demand of $2,000 aid checks to Americans is threatening to tank a big year-end COVID relief bill. It’s also posing an uncomfortable test of allegiance for Republicans who reject such spending. On Thursday, House Democrats will all but dare Republicans to break with Trump, calling up his proposal for a Christmas Eve vote. GOP lawmakers are poised to object, offering their own proposal to cut foreign aid. Trump has assailed the bipartisan $900 billion package, and suggested he may not sign it. His objection also threatens a government shutdown.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Negotiators from the European Union and Britain worked through the night and into Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a trade deal that should avert a chaotic economic break between the two sides next week. Trade will change regardless come Jan. 1, when the U.K. leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union. But both sides have been working furiously to avoid a nightmare scenario, in which the imposition of tariffs and duties would cost billions in trade and hundreds of thousands of jobs and potentially snarl ports so much that many goods would struggle to get through.
CALAIS, France (AP) – Trucks inched slowly past checkpoints in the port of Dover and headed across the English Channel to Calais, after France partially reopened its borders with Britain following a scare over a rapidly spreading new virus variant. Thousands of truckers and travelers remain trapped in mass gridlock at Dover port on Christmas Eve, held up by slow delivery of coronavirus tests. Anyone entering France from Britain now requires a negative test to proceed. Nations around the world began barring people from Britain over the weekend amid concerns about a new version of the virus.
BEIJING (AP) – China’s market regulator is conducting an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, stepping up the ruling Communist Party’s effort to control fast-growing tech industries. The market regulator says it is looking into Alibaba’s policy of “choose one of two,” which requires business partners to avoid dealing with its competitors. Chinese leaders have said anti-monopoly enforcement will be a priority this coming year.