Green on the screen and an upbeat tone...

Lawmakers haggle over details as U.S. Congress closes in on $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill

U.S. congressional negotiators were haggling on Wednesday over details of a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill that is expected to include $600-$700 stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, as a Friday deadline loomed, lawmakers and aides said.
Thune said the proposed direct payments to individuals would be around $600 to $700 per person. Some lawmakers such as Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, were pushing for more.
Lawmakers were discussing $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits, and about $330 billion to help small businesses, Thune said.
The $900 billion price tag for the package would be paid for by $600 billion in repurposed funds from other parts of the budget, and $300 billion in new money, according to a senator privy to the discussions.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden said the stimulus package was encouraging but more aid would be needed.
“It looks like they’re very, very close, and it looks like there is going to be direct cash payments, but it’s a down payment - an important down payment - on what’s going to have to be done beginning at the end of January, into February,” he told reporters.

Fed vows to buy bonds until it sees 'substantial' economic progress

With interest rates anchored at zero likely for years to come, the Fed added a more explicit promise to continue the current bond-buying program until there is “substantial further progress” in restoring full employment and hitting its 2% inflation target.
Between those two props for the economy, “our current policy stance is appropriate,” Powell said, while adding that the Fed would consider altering its bond purchases if economic conditions changed.
The vote on the policy statement was unanimous, and for the first time links the Fed’s monthly purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds and government-backed securities to a set of economic conditions. It had previously pledged to make those purchases only “over coming months,” with no firm guidance about when the recession-fighting program might stop.
“Although there has been much progress in the labor market since the spring, we will not lose sight of the millions of Americans who remain out of work,” he said.
"Admittedly P/Es are high but that's maybe not as relevant in a world where we think the 10-year Treasury is going to be lower than it's been historically from a return perspective."
- Jerome Powell

Fed extends pandemic-related dollar 'swap' lines for 9 other central banks

The Federal Reserve will keep dollar “swap” lines open for nine mid-sized foreign central banks until Sept. 30, 2021, extending a program established early in the coronavirus pandemic to help ease global financial stress.
In March, with the pandemic raising concerns about the need for dollar financing across the globe, the Fed set up $60 billion swap arrangements with the central banks of Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore and Sweden, and $30 billion lines with the central banks of Denmark, Norway and New Zealand.
The Fed also allowed an even longer list of central banks to get dollar loans provided they could post U.S. Treasury bonds as collateral.

Brexit Talks Head for Their Climax With a Fight Over Fishing

The U.K. and European Union are heading for a final battle over fishing rights as trade talks reach a climax, with officials cautiously predicting a deal within days.
The pound climbed against the dollar on Wednesday amid optimism that the focus on fish is a sign the two sides have largely settled their differences over the other major obstacle to an accord: the level competitive playing field for business.
And U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said that Parliament, which will go into recess Thursday, could be recalled as soon as next week to approve any deal that is reached. “Parliament has long shown it can move at pace and the country would expect nothing less,” 10 Downing Street said in a statement.

Oil prices hit nine-month high after U.S. crude stock draw

Oil hit a nine-month high on Thursday after government data showed a fall in U.S. crude stockpiles last week, while progress towards a U.S. fiscal stimulus deal and strong Asian demand also buoyed prices.
Brent crude futures rose 45 cents, or 0.9%, to $51.53 a barrel at 0436 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose by 46 cents, or nearly 1%, to $48.28 a barrel. Both benchmarks hit their highest since early March.
“All the headlines have been bullish for oil prices,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.
“U.S. stockpiles posted a larger-than-expected draw, three of India’s refiners are operating almost at 100% capacity, indicating crude demand remains strong, and it seems the U.S. will continue to deliver more monetary and fiscal stimulus, sending the dollar lower and most commodities higher.”
U.S. crude inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels in the week to Dec. 11, the Energy Information Administration said, more than analysts’ expectations of a 1.9-million-barrel drop.

Bitcoin surged beyond $22,000 overnight although 'fundamentally' it should be hitting $400,000;

Beats the Citi analyst and their 'technical analysis' based target of $300,000.

$500,000 next. You heard it here first.

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U.S. government, state lawsuits pile up against Big Tech market dominance

Google, Facebook, Amazon & Apple are all under investigation individually,and the latest case alleges that Facebook & Google colluded to consolidate their market power;

Google secretly gave Facebook perks, data in ad deal, U.S. states allege

Google and Facebook compete heavily in internet ad sales, together capturing over half of the market globally. The two players agreed in a publicized deal in 2018 to start giving Facebook’s advertiser clients the option to place ads within Google’s network of publishing partners, the complaint alleged. Executives at the highest level of the companies signed off on the deal, according to the complaint.
For example, a sneaker blog that uses software from Google to sell ads could end up generating revenue from a footwear retailer that bought ads on Facebook.
Google reached similar partnerships with other advertising companies as part of an effort to maintain market share that was internally codenamed Project Jedi, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
But what Google did not announce publicly is that it gave Facebook preferential treatment, the complaint alleged. Facebook agreed to back down from supporting competing software, which publishers had developed to dent Google’s market power, the complaint said.
“Facebook decided to dangle the threat of competition in Google’s face and then cut a deal to manipulate the auction,” it said, citing internal communications.
In exchange, the states said, Facebook received various benefits, including access to Google data and policy exceptions that enabled its clients to unfairly get more ads placed than clients of other Google partners could.

The Australian success story continues;

Australia Jobless Rate Unexpectedly Falls

Australia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was at 6.8% in November 2020, compared with market consensus and October's figure of 7%.
This was the lowest jobless rate since August, as the economy emerged gradually from the COVID-19 hit.
The number of unemployed declined by 17,300 to 942,100 people, as people looking for full-time work fell by 11,400 to 673,000 and those looking for only part-time work rose by 5,900 to 269,100.
Employment grew by 90,000 to 12,860,700, beating estimates of a 50,000 gain, as full-time employment went up by 84,200 to 8,725,700, and part-time employment gained 5,800 to 4,135,000.
The participation rate rose to a ten-month high of 66.1% in November from 65.8% in October, above forecasts of 66%.
The underemployment rate fell to 9.4% from 10.4% in the prior month, and the underutilization rate dropped 1.2 points to 16.2%.
Monthly hours worked in all jobs rose 42.8 million hours, or 2.5% to 1,752 million hours.

Australia New Home Sales Surge 15.2% MoM

Australia's new home sales jumped 15.2 percent month-over-month in November 2020, setting a new decade high and after a 1.3 fall a month earlier, data from Housing Industry Association showed.
The upturn was driven by an improvement in market confidence as the economy recovered further from the COVID-19 disruption, with households hurrying to meet the initial deadlines of the HomeBuilder program, while Victoria state emerging from the stage four COVID-19 restrictions.
Also, low interest rates, house price growth, and a change in consumer preferences away from apartment style living have all seen demand for detached housing rise. Many households have diverted their expenditure from travel and entertainment towards housing, including renovating their home.
Sales grew in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland.

Looking ahead, a hatful of central bank meetings with the Norges Bank, SNB, & BOE set to deliver their policy decisions this morning.

No policy changes are expected.  

This evening sees decisions from Mexico, with the BOJ to follow in the early hours.