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Sagging job gains can’t keep U.S. markets from record highs

December 5, 2020, 12:54 AM UTC

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

Markets around the world ended the week on an exceptionally strong note. The U.S. indexes shook off a disappointing November jobs report to close at record levels, while Europe shrugged off dragging Brexit negotiations to post gains across the board. Meanwhile, China shot back at U.S. measures targeting Chinese companies, and Japan is preparing an economic stimulus plan.

Markets update


  • The Dow is back above 30,000 points after gaining 0.8% on the day, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.9% to close just shy of 3,700 and the Nasdaq was up 0.7% to finish north of 12,400. Those numbers represent record-high closes for all three indexes.
  • The market’s exceptional performance Friday came in the wake of an underwhelming November unemployment report, which depicted a U.S. economy struggling with a COVID-19 surge that has forced parts of the country to reinstitute lockdown measures. President-elect Joe Biden said the “grim” report “shows an economy that is stalling,” and urged lawmakers to act on stimulus legislation.
  • It appears those on Capitol Hill are getting the memo as far as stimulus talks are concerned, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noting “momentum” in negotiations between leaders on both sides of the aisle.
  • In regulatory news, the SEC has settled with The Cheesecake Factory on charges that the restaurant chain misled investors about the pandemic’s impact on its business.
  • Pharma and biotech trade groups have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its measures to lower drug prices.


  • The major European bourses all had a bullish Friday. London’s FTSE climbed 0.9%, Frankfurt’s DAX ticked up 0.4%, and both the CAC 40 in Paris and the pan-European STOXX 600 gained 0.6%.
  • Brexit negotiations continue to dominate the agenda. Friday’s deliberations ended on a sour note, with the sides pausing talks and putting the onus on their leaders—namely, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen—to find some common ground over the weekend.
  • Meanwhile, London’s finance industry continues to sweat over Brexit, as a trade deal with the EU won’t cover a British financial sector that is already seeing a flight of assets and operations to the continent.
  • Companies hoping for a new EU-U.S. data transfer pact shouldn’t hold their breath, according to the EU’s privacy watchdog.
  • The battle over the EU’s 1.8 trillion euro budget rages on, with Poland and Hungary digging in on their objections.


  • The Asian markets were mostly up to end the week. Tokyo’s Nikkei was the exception (-0.2%), but both Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (+0.4%) and South Korea’s KOSPI (+1.3%) registered gains. On mainland China, the major indexes in Shanghai (+0.1%) and Shenzhen (+0.4%) also notched up.
  • Huawei’s battle with the U.S. government shows signs of abating, with the Justice Department reportedly discussing a deal with Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese firm’s CFO, that would allow her to return home, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government will finalize a new economic stimulus package next week, with one of his aides floating a safety net for Japanese firms hit hard by the pandemic.
  • China has shot back at the U.S. over a pair of measures this week targeting Chinese companies. It slammed a new law forcing U.S.-listed Chinese firms to follow U.S. auditing standards as “clearly discriminatory,” and also criticized the Pentagon’s move to blacklist four Chinese companies for their ties to China’s military.
  • Taiwan’s president has called for a bilateral trade deal with the U.S., which she said would “reinforce America’s support for Taiwan in the face of unrelenting intimidation” from China.
  • Burger King India’s IPO has proven a whopper-sized hit after drawing $9.5 billion in bids—more than 150 times the amount of shares available—from investors on Mumbai’s National Stock Exchange.


  • Gold slipped slightly but remains above $1,800/ounce.
  • The dollar fell again.
  • Bitcoin sank below $19,000.
  • Crude oil climbed, with Brent trading at around $49/barrel.


By the numbers

It’s Friday, so let’s have a look at some numbers before ringing in the weekend.


That was the Nikkei’s closing price at the end of trading Friday, down 58 points from the previous day. So what’s notable about that number, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange index’s 16% rally since the start of November?

It’s well known that the Nikkei has never fully recovered the losses sustained when Japan’s asset price bubble burst 30 years ago. Indeed, anyone of the opinion that stock markets only go up in the long-term needs only to examine the index’s performance in the three decades since to find otherwise.

But finally, it appears that the TSE is digging itself out of that 30-year hole. Last month, the Nikkei closed above 26,000 points for the first time since May 1991, and it has continued its climb since. On Tuesday, it finished above 26,700 points for the first time since April 18, 1991, and closed above 26,800 points twice this week before retreating slightly on Friday. Omedetō to the Nikkei—it’s been a long time coming.

$95 million

That’s how much Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman earns every month in the form of stock options in his cloud-computing company, which has been one of the hottest names on Wall Street since its September IPO. Snowflake shares shot up immediately upon the firm’s public debut and have continued to soar since, closing at nearly $388 a share on Friday.

$3.1 billion

That’s how much DoorDash hopes to raise through its upcoming IPO—an amount that could give the online food delivery startup a valuation as high as $35.7 billion. DoorDash revised its IPO estimates—which just earlier this week called for a $2.6 billion raise that would value the firm at around $32 billion—in disclosing that it expects to sell around 33 million shares priced between $90 to $95 each.


That’s all from me this week; you’ll be back in Bernhard’s hands on Monday. Please be sure to check out today’s reads below, and have a wonderful weekend.

Rey Mashayekhi

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Today's reads

Petco’s pandemic puppy push. Who would have guessed that the pandemic would boost Petco’s business? The pet supply retailer filed its IPO prospectus Thursday night, revealing that sales have surged since the start of the pandemic thanks in part to “an increase in pet ownership” during that time. Of course, Petco’s successes go beyond the pet adoption boom, with the company also investing big in e-commerce and store remodels in recent years.

Head in the cloud. Snowflake isn’t the only cloud-based tech firm tearing up Wall Street as of late. The likes of CrowdStrike, Okta, and Zscaler have all seen their shares soar, as the pandemic has accelerated a shift to the cloud that has proven a boon to these firms’ businesses.

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Market candy

“If you’re worried about your ego, don’t get into short-selling.”

That’s Fraser Perring, the founder of three-person activist investment firm Viceroy Research. Viceroy is among the tiny short-selling firms profiled by Bull Sheet’s own Bernhard Warner in Fortune’s December/January issue.