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Global stocks and U.S. futures gain as investors look to extend last week’s record-breaking rally

December 13, 2021, 10:32 AM UTC

Good morning, Bull Sheeters.

We begin the week with plenty of green on the screens.

U.S. futures have been ticking higher all morning, following the lead of Asia and Europe. That comes as investors brace for a big week of central bank news. A reminder: Jerome Powell & Co. meet tomorrow and Wednesday. The markets expect the Federal Reserve to speed up its tapering dot-plot and give a bit more clarity on tightening. So, expect a lot of projections this week on how many rate hikes we’ll see next year and in 2023.

In today’s essay, I have some big news. It’s not what you’d call markets-moving information, but it will impact the Bull Sheet community.

But first, let’s see what else is moving markets.

Markets update

Asia

  • The markets out east began the week on a mostly higher note with the Nikkei up roughly 0.7% on the day.
  • In IPO news, SenseTime Group has decided to press pause on its $767 million Hong Kong listing, planned for later this week, after the Chinese A.I. startup was placed on a U.S. investment blacklist.
  • We might as well call this “Central Bank Week.” More than a dozen central banks, Bloomberg estimates, will meet this week, with the financial authorities in the world’s biggest economies on clearly divergent paths. That could add further volatility to FX markets.

Europe

  • The European bourses were higher out of the gates. Two hours into the session, the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 was up nearly 0.6%. Autos, energy and basic resources stocks were leading the way higher.
  • The U.K. is bracing for a “tidal wave” of Omicron infections as the mutant variant now accounts for one-third of new cases in the country. On the news, the pound was under pressure in morning trade.
  • Elsewhere, the WHO warned today that Omicron looks as if it will outpace Delta in the countries where it’s spreading.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are moving steadily higher. That’s after stocks closed out on Friday their best week since February. The S&P 500 climbed 3.8%. The Dow performed even better, jumping 4% on the week.
  • The Nasdaq is up 21% YTD, but don’t mistaken this for an “everything rally.” If you were to remove the top five contributors—Apple, Microsoft, Google’s Alphabet, Nvidia and Tesla—the tech-heavy index would be up a little over 5%, The MarketEar blog notes, hardly a bull market.
  • What’s on the calendar this week? Corporate results season ain’t over. Look out for Cisco (today), Adobe, Rivian and FedEx, all on Thursday. We also have Fed. The two-day FOMC meeting wraps up on Wednesday, at which time we expect to get a bit more clarity on how quickly the central bank will wrap up tapering—i.e., its asset-purchasing program.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is flat, trading around $1,785/ounce.
  • The dollar is higher ahead of the Fed’s big meeting this week.
  • Crude is gaining with Brent above $75/barrel this morning.
  • Crypto had another volatile weekend. On Sunday, Bitcoin climbed above $50,000, but has now slumped again to trade below $49,000.

***

Acta Diurna

Nobody would call Rome a “media town.” That title probably belongs to a New York, or a London, or a Los Angeles. But historians credit Rome as the birthplace of the newsletter. On the banks of the Tiber, in Caesar’s day, the newsletter—and you might say, journalism—got its start with the “Acta Diurna Populi Romani,” or Daily Acts of the Roman People. 

The hand-written “Acta” was Caesar’s idea, and, therefore, it read—on most days, anyhow—as distinctly pro-Caesar. But, regardless of the slant, it still delivered to the ancient Romans a reliable morning fix of empire-moving happenings. 

All you had to do was pitch up in the piazza at the right time to hear it read aloud. Or, if you were literate, you’d simply ask around where it was to be posted on that very day. (Today, of course, your favorite newsletter finds you—whether you’re at your Aspen villa or moored off the coast of Portofino on your superyacht. So please stop grumbling that you occasionally have to fish a newsletter out of your spam folder.)

That’s all to say, newsletters have had a great run in this town. With Bull Sheet, I’ve been fortunate to play a piccolisimo part in that tradition.

Wait a second… where’s he going with this on a Monday morning?

Okay, here’s the news, which impacts us more than it does the markets. At the end of this week, Fortune’s newsletters go dark for the Christmas season. And, it’s been decided, Bull Sheet won’t be coming back in 2022. That means there are [checks calendar] just four more Bull Sheets remaining after today.

I wish there were a different way to break the news to the Bull Sheet community, to all you loyal readers in Sydney and Singapore and Houston and Seattle, and all the points in between.

In ancient Rome, I’m guessing, some junior scribe would have delivered such news, and at least you could have thrown a piece of cabbage at the messenger. If you want to throw virtual cabbage at me, you have my email, and you know how to reach me on Twitter and LinkedIn. So, fire away!

But, first, I owe you a kind of Q&A. So, let’s try to answer some of your questions.

Question: You mention the Acta Diurna. That ran for centuries, and, scholars say, continued to prosper long after Caesar’s death. Bull Sheet, on the other hand, is shutting down after not quite two years—in the middle of an epic bull-market run, no less. What gives?

That’s astute of you to point out the longevity of Acta Diurna. Any budding empire lives and dies on its messaging. We now know the daily newsletter was a key tool to keep the masses apprised of Rome’s growing prosperity and prominence in the ancient world. Those were risk-on times. And, thanks to the free flow of information, the locals were a bullish lot. 

I am no Caesar, but I can tell you these are still bullish times. And, for that reason, Fortune’s crack finance team will continue to deliver all the market-moving news you’ll need to make timely investment decisions. And, you can still follow my Fortune markets reportage by signing up to My Favorites—and selecting yours truly, plus any topic that catches your fancy.

This reads like a break-up letter. And right before Christmas!

That’s not a question, but I’ll field it anyway. Okay, I’ll be honest. In researching today’s Bull Sheet, I did Google: “How to write a break-up letter.” And, I found that nobody advises: Step One: just trot out Caesar and the ancient Romans to smooth over the bad news.

What the break-up experts (yes, there are break-up experts) advise is honesty. So, yes, you’re correct. This is a kind of breakup. But it’s not you. Well, not all of you. (Okay, that’s a joke.) It’s us. Well not all… you get the idea. 

Perversely, I learned in my research that if the relationship hasn’t gone on for all that long—like, say, a one-month dalliance—the breaker-upper is in his right to break the bad news with a written explanation. That would make it acceptable for me to send out a break-up letter to those of you who signed up in the past few weeks. That’s about 3,000 of you. To the other 50,000 or so, I should have considered a more intimate option—something more tasteful than lowering the boom over Zoom. But, given the tight timing of the decision to discontinue the newsletter—and let’s not forget there’s a pandemic—I have little choice but to use today’s Bull Sheet as the medium to inform you that Bull Sheet is soon to be delisted.

You’re a real jerk.

That, too, is not a question. But, you know what?, I feel like a real jerk right now. I can’t believe it’s so hard to write this. 

You see, not long after the launch of Bull Sheet, I went off script. It was March, 2020, and the Italian government had just put us all in lockdown. I quickly got tired of answering the Are you okay? questions.That’s when I conceived the Postscript. I used this newsletter as a way to inform as many people as possible that my family and I were surviving life under lockdown. Of course, Postscript kinda took on a life of its own shortly after that. With your prodding, I started sharing more and more. Soon, pizza recipes and little observations about life in Italy—past, present and future—were landing in your in-box. I even shared complicated medical stuff, and the story about how I got emotionally bribed into getting a puppy for the kids, and my trek through the tri-state area to find a pair of pseudo first-edition Air Jordans for my daughter.

Through Postscript, I introduced you to the people who make me smile every day. The ones who inspire me. The ones who make me rethink the world. I shared a whole mess of stories that had nothing to do with the markets.

And, through it all, your responses never failed to make me laugh, or ponder other possibilities, or choke me up. For that, I will be forever grateful. 

Along the way you reminded me that we’re all connected in a far more powerful way than investment-portfolio returns. With Bull Sheet, I tool up the task to write about numbers, dollars, and sense that swirl around the global markets each day. But through our interaction I came to realize most days that beyond the anodyne movement of capital there’s this force far older than Ancient Rome: Humanity.

Scholars don’t really get into what kind of feedback Caesar got from his Acta Diurna. But, if the response was even half as heartfelt as what I’ve seen from you, I reckon he went out on top of the world.

Now what?

Well, we still have this entire week together. Let’s make the most of it. Let me know what you want me to write about. You’ve helped shape this newsletter from the very start. No reason to stop now.

On a bigger note, this newsletter reorg is happening as Fortune is going through a big growth push. So, expect more great things from us—and from me. For example, I’m looking forward to writing more magazine pieces like this one, in which I explored the surprising science behind the frenzies, manias and panics that seem to rock the stock markets with more frequency.


***

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.com

As always, you can write to bullsheet@fortune.com or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.

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Market candy

Quiz time

You may have seen all those headlines on Friday and over the weekend about inflation running at nearly a 40-year-high. The year we last saw price running this hot was 1982. In June of that year inflation surged to 7.1%. Which film topped the U.S. box office in June, 1982? Was it...

  • A. Grease II 
  • B. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
  • C. Blade Runner
  • D. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial

The answer is, yep, D, E.T... I re-watched it recently with the girls. It ages well. 

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