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The Opening Belle - No GBP Love, Oil Slips, Gold & Silver Shine

Dec. 21, 2020 2:13 AM ET
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David Belle's Blog
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  • GBP Hit By Lockdown, Travel Restrictions, Brexit Impasse.
  • U.S. Stimulus Deal Reached.
  • China Maintains LPR - Hikes Next Year?
  • Suga: Defend 100 Yen Barrier.
  • Tesla S&P Debut.

The Opening Belle - No GBP Love, Oil Slips, Gold & Silver Shine

A very mixed picture overnight.GBP took a knock - no positives to be found with no deal Brexit fears stoked further, the 'mutant' virus strain taking hold, leading to further (extended?) lockdowns and international travel bans.Less travel brings oil demand into question, traders haven't waited for the answer.Brent & Crude both down by 3%.On the positive side, it seems like a new stimulus bill has finally been agreed in the U.S. and will go to vote today

So, this stimulus deal...

U.S. Congress reaches deal on COVID-19 aid package, plans votes for Monday

“At long last, we have the bipartisan breakthrough the country has needed,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor, following months of contentious debate.
Republican and Democratic leaders said the package should have enough support to pass both chambers of Congress.
President Donald Trump supports the bill and will sign it into law, White House spokesman Ben Williamson said.
The package would give $600 direct payments to individuals and boost unemployment payments by $300 a week. It also includes billions for small businesses, food assistance, vaccine distribution, transit and healthcare. It extends a moratorium on foreclosures and provides $25 billion in rental aid.
“Anyone who thinks this bill is enough does not know what’s going on in America,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference. He said he would push for more aid after Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
Lawmakers said they had resolved disputes over the Federal Reserve’s pandemic lending authority and other issues that had forced negotiations into the weekend.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives will likely vote on the package on Monday, with the Republican-controlled Senate to follow, according to House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer.
Congress aims to include the coronavirus aid package in a $1.4 trillion spending bill funding government programs through September 2021.
The bill would allow Federal Reserve emergency lending programs to expire on Dec. 31 for businesses and state and local governments, which Republicans said were an unnecessary government interference in private business. But it does not prevent similar programs from being created.

At a glance Via Jeff Stein (Washington Post);

IN: - $300/week UI- $600/person checks- $284B PPP for 2.0- $82B for schools- $27B for transit- $25B for rental $, eviction moratorium - $13B for hunger- Vaccine distribution $- Surprise billing legislation- $10B for childcare

OUT: - Retroactive UI- UI of $600/week of spring/summer- Checks for immigrants/adult dependents- Direct aid for state & local govs (Ds had asked for $1 trillion) - GOP's liability shield - Hazard pay for essential workers

Britain faces EU-wide travel ban to curb spread of Covid mutation

Supplies of food and vaccine at risk as France takes lead in halting flights, while Canada joins growing list of states announcing a UK ban
Britain was hit with a travel ban on Sunday night by a host of EU countries to halt the spread of the new, more infectious coronavirus strain.
The ban on passenger flights and freight transport from the UK threatened to disrupt food supplies, Christmas gifts and even the Covid vaccine as well as hitting the festive travel plans of an estimated 250,000 Britons.
France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland were among 11 European countries to close their borders to flights and most freight lorries, trains and ferries from the UK from midnight on Sunday night, but the ban could be extended to the entire bloc.
The EU will hold an emergency meeting on Monday morning to discuss a blanket ban that could cost UK consumers £400 million in cancelled bookings.
Beyond Europe, bans on flights from Britain were being implemented by Israel and in the Americas, including by Canada, Chile and Argentina.
In a sign of the growing concern within the Government, Boris Johnson will on Monday chair a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee to discuss "the steady flow of freight in and out of the UK", Downing Street said.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) warned, however, that plans by France alone to shut its border for at least 48 hours threatened "enormous disruption" to vital food and trade supplies.
Rod McKenzie, RHA director of policy, said that even though France would allow freight to leave for the UK, lorries would not be able to return.
He added: "Trade is a two-way street, what goes out, comes back and visa versa. So any disruption to free-flowing goods at this time of year will have severe consequences."
The Port of Dover on Sunday night announced it would be closed to traffic leaving the UK "until further notice".
The Department of Health said it had contingency plans in place to airlift the Pfizer vaccines from Belgium using military aircraft if the ban stayed in place for longer than 48 hours.

Tier 4 restrictions could remain in place until Easter, Government admits

Tier 4 restrictions could be toughened further and remain in place until close to Easter, Government sources have admitted.
Ministers believe at least 20 million people will need to have been vaccinated against coronavirus before any significant relaxing of the measures can be considered, it is understood.
Matt Hancock said on Sunday that Britain faces a “very difficult” few months, warning that the spread of the virus across swathes of England is now “out of control”.
He also refused to rule out closing schools for the first time since the original spring lockdown.
Police chiefs warned that the ban on people getting together for Christmas in Tier 4 is "unenforceable" despite stepping up patrols at rail stations and on borders to stop the spread of the new strain of the virus.
Retailers extended or changed their returns policies on Sunday for customers who may be forced to hold onto unwanted Christmas presents for months due to store closures.
A second vaccine, made by Astra Zeneca, is expected to get the green light from regulators next week, which ministers hope will speed up the programme with mass vaccination clinics due to open in football stadia from the first week of January.
This could see several million doses administered weekly, Government sources have said, but even this timescale could mean Britain remains under heavy restrictions until March.
One said: “It is going to be a very difficult few months, the quicker we can roll-out the vaccine the better.
“Essentially we are looking at spring as the time when we can move out of this difficult place we’re in – something like March, the point at which everyone in the ‘at risk’ groups has been offered the vaccine.”
The category covers everyone over the age of 50, as well as younger people with underlying health conditions.

Emmanuel Macron told he's making a 'massive miscalculation' that UK will negotiate next year

Emmanuel Macron has been accused of risking a no-deal Brexit by making the “massive miscalculation” that Britain will be forced back to the negotiating table in the new year.
Downing Street believes Mr Macron is standing in the way of a deal because he is playing to his domestic audience ahead of elections in 18 months’ time.
A deadline of 11pm Sunday night – set by MEPs for a deal to be agreed in order for it to be ratified by December 31 – passed without any conclusion to the talks.
The UK has said it will not walk away from the negotiations while there is still time to reach an agreement.
Negotiators believe Mr Macron is gambling on the theory that no deal will be so unpopular in Britain that Boris Johnson will cave in and accept Brussels’ current offer within weeks of leaving the single market and customs union on January 1.
But senior Government sources have dismissed the idea as “fantasy” and insisted that it “makes no sense” to reject a deal now only to accept it weeks later.
One source said: “If we leave without a deal there will inevitably be criticism of the Government, even though the Prime Minister has made it clear we will thrive either way.
“Why on earth would we go through that if we intended to go back to Brussels cap-in-hand a few weeks later and accept a deal we have already rejected?
"If Emmanuel Macron thinks that's what's going to happen he has made a massive miscalculation."
UK sources once again made clear on Sunday that there could only be a deal if there was a “substantial shift” in the EU’s position.
The issues of fishing rights and “level playing field” rules remain the two key areas of difference, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the bloc “remains committed to a fair, reciprocal and balanced agreement. We respect the sovereignty of the UK. And we expect the same”.
A UK Government source said: “Unfortunately, the EU are still struggling to get the flexibility needed from member states and are continuing to make demands that are incompatible with our independence.
“We cannot accept a deal that doesn’t leave us in control of our own laws or waters.”
The European Commission’s latest offer on fish is to give back 25 per cent of its quota, with a six-year transition period. Britain has offered a three-year transition and wants 60 per cent of the quotas returned.
If a deal is reached before December 31 it could be provisionally applied, which does not need a European Parliament vote. MEPs would still have to confirm the agreement with a vote in the new year.
On Sunday night, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, said it was now "imperative" that Mr Johnson seek an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period.
"The new Covid strain and the various implications of it mean we face a profoundly serious situation, and it demands our 100 per cent attention. It would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit," she said.

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China leaves lending benchmark LPR unchanged but rate hike expectations grow

China kept its benchmark lending rate for corporate and household loans unchanged at its December fixing on Monday, as expected, although improving economic fundamentals have raised speculation about a rate hike next year.
The one-year loan prime rate (LPR) was kept at 3.85%, while the five-year LPR remained at 4.65%. The rates have been unchanged for eight straight months.
For the year, the one-year LPR was down a total 30 basis points of rate cuts, and the five-year rate was cut by 15 bps of two cuts in 2020.
Most new and outstanding loans are based on the LPR, while the five-year rate influences the pricing of mortgages.
With the economy back on track, some senior central bank officials have repeatedly raised the topic of exiting loose monetary policies recently.
The annual Central Economic Work Conference, a gathering of top leaders and policymakers, said last week that China will maintain support for its economic recovery and avoid sudden shifts in policy to help keep economic growth within a reasonable range.
“The Conference changed the tone of prudent monetary policy to be ‘reasonably proper’, called for a largely stable macro leverage and M2 and TSF growth to be ‘compatible’ with nominal GDP growth,” Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS, expecting a small policy rate hike in the second half of next year.
Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said in a note that subtle changes in language have flagged forthcoming policy shifts in the past and therefore he expected PBOC policy rates to rise by 30 bps in 2021.

Suga draws line in the sand: Defend '100 yen' dollar barrier

A shock wave ran through Japan's Finance Ministry in early November after news broke of Joe Biden's presumed victory in the U.S. presidential election -- not because of the outcome of the race, but because of an order from the prime minister's office.
"Make sure the yen-dollar exchange rate does not cross the 100 yen mark," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told Finance Ministry officials. His comment, which was confirmed by multiple sources, came with an unspoken message: Be prepared to sell yen for dollars in case the Japanese currency breaches the key threshold.
Suga's willingness to consider an intervention -- an option often seen as a last resort -- took many by surprise.
Tokyo-listed exporters need the yen to stay at 100.2 to the dollar or weaker in order to turn a profit, according to a January survey by the Cabinet Office. Any stronger and their earnings would suffer, which in turn would weigh down their stock prices and kick off a negative feedback loop that squeezes the Japanese economy as a whole.
The exchange rate is currently between 102 and 104 yen to the dollar. With the yen starting to enter treacherous territory, Suga is keeping a close eye on the currency market just as he did during his almost eight years as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's right-hand man.
"Managing foreign exchange risks is one of my key priorities," Suga said when he was chief cabinet secretary.

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Tesla debuts into S&P after frantic Friday trading

Tesla Inc will on Monday make its much anticipated debut into the benchmark S&P 500 index, after rising to a record high on Friday in a frantic day of trading.
The company, headed by billionaire Elon Musk, will become the most valuable ever admitted to Wall Street's main benchmark and will account for 1.69% of the index, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices' analyst Howard Silverblatt. The shares have surged some 70% since mid-November, when Tesla's debut in the S&P 500 was announced here, and have soared 700% so far in 2020.
Tesla’s addition to the S&P 500 meant index-tracking funds bought $90.3 billion of shares by the end of Friday’s session so that their portfolios reflected the index, according to Silverblatt.
Silverblatt said that for every $11.11 Tesla moves, the S&P 500 changes 1 point, while the S&P’s 2021 price/earnings ratio will rise from 22.3 to 22.6.

A quiet calendar ahead.

Markets will remain headline driven, and lower liquidity could lead to outsized moves in the coming days;

Analyst's Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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