Global markets unaffected by last night's events in the U.S. Capitol.

Asian indices posted strong gains with the KOSPI rallying to an all-time high.

The 'Sell Tech' rotation trade has evolved to 'Buy Everything' - all U.S. futures are well in the green and oil continues to push higher - Brent futures approaching the $55 handle.

U.S. 10Y continues to sell off - now yields 1.05%.

Bitcoin sits just below $38,000.

The Trump furore has reached a peak now, with talk of measures including censure, impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment to get him out of office early.

With only 13 days until Biden is sworn in (the election result should be certified today), any measures to remove Trump early will simply reinforce his persona as a martyr and victim of the establishment/media.

Either way, markets are unlikely to care.

Trump is old news (until he launches his own media company at least...)

Georgia delivers Senate to Democrats with Warnock, Ossoff wins

Democrats on Wednesday completed a sweep of the two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs in runoff elections in the state of Georgia, giving the party control of the chamber and boosting the prospects for President-elect Joe Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda.
With 98% of the vote counted, Warnock led Loeffler by 1.5 percentage points and Ossoff led Perdue by 0.6 percentage points, according to Edison Research. Both are expected to win beyond the margin that would require a recount.
Winning both contests would hand Democrats narrow control of the Senate by creating a 50-50 split and giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote from Jan. 20. The party already has a thin majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Sen. Schumer says Democratic Senate to make $2,000 stimulus payment top priority

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday predicted Democrats will win control of the Senate for the next two years once all votes are counted in a special election in Georgia, as he promised to deliver “bold change” for America.
Schumer, who is poised to become Senate majority leader, told reporters: “One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 check” to help people get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Release of the FOMC Minutes was somewhat overshadowed by the events in DC, although there was little to dissect;

Goldman Sachs note via @PriapusIQ

Crypto Market Value Tops $1 Trillion as Bitcoin Breaches $37,000

The total market value of cryptocurrencies surpassed $1 trillion for the first time Thursday amid a frenzied and volatile rally in Bitcoin to yet another record.
Cryptocurrencies hit the milestone after a fivefold climb in market value in the past year, data from tracker CoinGecko shows. Strategists have cited demand from speculative retail traders, trend-following quant funds, the rich and even institutional investors as among the reasons for the surge.
Digital coins are jumping in a world awash with fiscal and monetary stimulus, even as some commentators fear an inevitable bust and others question the basic integrity of crypto markets. Proponents of Bitcoin argue it offers a hedge against dollar weakness and the risk of faster inflation, a bit like gold, while critics decry the intellectual soundness of comparing the two assets.
Bitcoin rose as much as 4% on Thursday to top $37,000 and has more than quadrupled in the past year, according to a composite of prices compiled by Bloomberg. It accounts for about two-thirds of cryptocurrency market value, followed by Ether on about 14%. Ether is up 62% so far this year.

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Renzi attempts power play with threat to Italian coalition

The middle of a global pandemic and a brutal recession might not seem the most opportune moment to try to bring down the Italian government. That is unless you are Matteo Renzi, the former prime minister and one-time golden boy of Italian politics, who has kicked off the new year by threatening to withdraw his small party’s support for the ruling coalition.
Mr Renzi has accused Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of bungling plans on how vast sums of EU recovery money will be spent and refusing to tap additional EU funds to bolster Italy’s coronavirus response.
A showdown between the two men is expected to take place on Thursday when Mr Conte holds a cabinet meeting to approve his recovery plans. If ministers from Mr Renzi’s Italia Viva withhold their support, Mr Conte could be forced to return to parliament to try to form a new coalition without the party.
Despite coming under severe criticism from opposition politicians and the media during the second wave of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, Mr Conte remains well liked by voters in spite of lacking a party of his own.
The coalition could survive losing Mr Renzi’s lawmakers in the lower house, where it only has 30 MPs. But it commands such a thin majority in the upper house that the exit of the small number of senators from Italia Viva could trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister. If Mr Conte then failed to cobble together a new coalition, President Sergio Mattarella could call a general election although few expect this to be possible during the pandemic and during a complex resizing of the number of Italian lawmakers under way after a referendum earlier this year.
Some observers believe that Mr Renzi, for all of his tough talk, is merely attempting to exploit the fact that the pandemic and constitutional reforms mean that he can use the conflict to carve out a larger political profile for himself without the risk of triggering elections that would risk destroying him.

Japan Total Cash Earnings Fall the Most in 6 Months

Japan's nominal cash earnings declined 2.2 percent year-on-year in November of 2020, the largest decline in six months, following a revised 0.7 percent drop in the prior month. Regular pay, which accounts for the bulk of monthly wages, dropped 0.7 percent after a revised 0.5 drop in the prior month. Real wages shrank 1.1 percent, after falling a revised 0.1 percent in the previous month.

Australia Imports Hit 9-Month High

Imports of goods and services to Australia jumped by 10 percent month-over-month to a nine-month high of AUD 31.37 billion, as domestic demand strengthened further following an easing of coronavirus-induced restrictions. Purchases of consumption goods increased by 4 percent to AUD 9.63 billion, due to food & beverages, mainly for consumption, and non-industrial transport equipment. Additionally, imports of intermediate and other merchandise goods rose 4 percent to AUD 9.33 billion, driven by parts for transport equipment; while those of capital goods surged 31 percent to AUD 7.99 billion on the back of purchases of machinery and industrial equipment and telecommunications equipment. Meantime, imports of services were up 4 percent to AUD 3.90 billion.

Australia Exports Highest in 7 Months

Exports of goods and services from Australia rose by 3 percent from a month earlier to a seven-month high of AUD 36.39 billion in November 2020, amid improving global demand. Exports of rural goods increased 6 percent to AUD 3.59 billion, boosted by meat & meat preparations. Meanwhile, exports of services were up 2 percent to AUD 5.19 billion with increases seen in tourism related services and travel. Also, exports of non-monetary gold jumped 45 percent to AUD 2.88 billion. Meanwhile, sales of non-rural goods were almost unchanged at AUD 24.68 billion, with sales of metal ores & minerals dropped by 2 percent while those of both other mineral fuels and other manufactures rose 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

LafargeHolcim to buy Firestone Building Products in $3.4 billion deal

LafargeHolcim will buy Firestone Building Products from Bridgestone Americas in a $3.4 billon deal, the world’s biggest cement maker said on Thursday.
Firestone Building Products, which specialises in commercial roofing in the United States, had sales of around $1.8 billion and earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation of $270 million in 2020, LafargeHolcim said in a statement.
The move is a departure from LafargeHolcim’s recent strategy of focussing on small-scale bolt-on acquisitions. It said it would finance the deal with cash and debt.
The business was part of Japan’s Bridgestone Corporation and will boost LafargeHolcim’s presence in the United States, taking its annual sales there to $6 billion.
The Swiss company said it plans to expand the flat roofing business to Europe and South America.
“With Firestone Building Products we are strengthening our biggest market, the U.S., while also building a global growth and innovation platform for the company,” said LafargeHolcim Chief Executive Jan Jenisch.

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