Vaccines can’t lift a flat day for global markets

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Good evening, Bull Sheeters. This is Fortune finance reporter Rey Mashayekhi, filling in this week for Bernhard with a special PM edition of the newsletter.

It was a restrained day for the global markets. Wednesday morning’s news that the U.K. has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for distribution gave British markets a boost, but the reaction elsewhere was relatively modest. Meanwhile, stimulus talks rumbled on in D.C., the EU is already dreaming of post-Trump relations with the U.S., and the incoming American president shed some light on his China strategy.

Markets update


  • Another day, another record-high close for the S&P 500, which gained 0.2% to end Wednesday at 3,669 points. The Dow also ticked up 0.2%, while the Nasdaq was down marginally.
  • There was more back-and-forth on a new COVID-19 stimulus package on Capitol Hill, with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi both throwing their support behind this week’s bipartisan $908 billion proposal. More importantly, there are indications that leadership on both sides of the aisle are prepared to work with each other on a deal.
  • Having faced the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell today appeared before the House Financial Services Committee. In addition to stressing the importance of additional stimulus measures, the two men again discussed Mnuchin’s decision to not renew the Fed’s emergency lending programs.
  • Mnuchin also called on lawmakers to back U.S. airlines with another $20 billion in government payroll support.
  • All that talk of stimulus is driving up the market’s expectations for inflation.
  • In deal news, Uber is reportedly in talks to sell its business unit focused on developing flying, self-driving taxis to Joby Aviation, according to Axios.


  • Across the European bourses, London’s FTSE rode the high of the U.K.’s excellent coronavirus vaccine news to climb 1.2%. Frankfurt’s DAX slipped slightly (-0.5%), while the CAC 40 in Paris and the pan-European STOXX 600 were virtually flat.
  • With President Trump heading out the door, the EU and the U.S. should pursue a “new transatlantic agenda” once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, according to the European Commission.
  • But the EU also has its own problems: namely, a budget standoff that has seen Poland and Hungary hold hostage the bloc’s 1.8 trillion euro proposal.
  • In Germany, the government has yet again bailed out TUI, the world’s largest travel and tourism company, to the tune of 1.8 billion euro.


  • The Asian markets were mostly flat, with only South Korea’s KOSPI (+1.6%) moving notably. Tokyo’s Nikkei ticked up less than 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed -0.1%. On mainland China, the markets in Shanghai (-0.1%) and Shenzhen (+0.2%) were similarly mixed.
  • In an interview with the New York Times, President-elect Biden said that he will not “make any immediate moves” to cancel President Trump’s “Phase 1” trade deal with China, nor lift Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require Chinese firms to adhere to U.S. auditing standards, or risk being removed from U.S exchanges. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.
  • Jack Ma’s Ant Group is reportedly considering offloading its 30% stake in Indian digital payments firm Paytm.
  • Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi saw its shares in Hong Kong take a dive on Wednesday, after the firm failed to disclose a $4 billion off-market financial deal.


  • Gold notched upward.
  • The dollar sank further on stimulus news
  • Bitcoin gained slightly but remains some way off the $20,000 mark—despite reportedly getting talked up by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.
  • Crude oil rose, with Brent settling at north of $48/barrel.


That’s all from me for now; please be sure to check out today’s reads below. Have a pleasant evening and see you again tomorrow.

Rey Mashayekhi

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Today's reads

To infinity and beyond. Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year for 2020 is none other than Elon Musk. Our Andrew Nusca and Michal Lev-Ram dove into what was a banner year for one of the world’s most creative—and controversial—CEOs, from Tesla to SpaceX and everything in between.

Wheeling and dealing. Not only is Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in the middle of a very competitive, hugely consequential reelection campaign, but he’s now facing questions about his stock-trading activities. According to the New York Times, Perdue has been by far the most prolific trader of securities during his time on Capitol Hill, with nearly 2,600 transactions to his name over the last six years—including some that raise possible conflict-of-interest concerns.

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Market candy

“He really is, most of the time, the smartest guy in the room. He will think through decision trees quickly and thoroughly—10 to 15 chess moves in advance. He will close his eyes, flip his head back, and you can see his eyes darting. It can last for a while.”

That’s an anonymous former executive of one of Elon Musk’s companies, who—though bound by a nondisclosure agreement—gave Fortune some insight into our 2020 Businessperson of the Year.

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