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Caution Likely to Prevail Amid Focus On US-China Trade Talks

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Caution Likely to Prevail Amid Focus On US-China Trade Talks

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a roughly flat opening on Monday following the roller coaster ride seen over the past few sessions.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves as they keep a close eye on high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China in Beijing.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish is leading the U.S. team at the two-day meeting, with a spokesman for China?s Foreign Ministry predicting ?positive and constructive discussions.?

News on the merger-and-acquisition front may generate some buying interest, although traders are likely to remain cautious amid the ongoing U.S. government shutdown.

Weekend meetings reportedly made little progress toward ending the impasse over funding for President Donald Trump?s controversial border wall.

Stocks showed a substantial move to the upside over the course of the trading day on Friday, more than offsetting the sharp pullback seen in the previous session. The major averages all moved significantly higher, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way.

The major averages moved roughly sideways going into the close, holding on to strong gains. The Dow surged up 746.94 points or 3.3 percent to 23,433.16, the Nasdaq soared 275.35 points or 4.3 percent to 6,738.86 and the S&P 500 spiked 84.05 points or 3.4 percent to 2,531.94.

With the rally on the day, the major averages also moved notably higher for the week. While the Dow jumped by 1.6 percent, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 shot up by 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

The rebound on Wall Street partly reflected a positive reaction to a Labor Department report showing much stronger than expected job growth in the month of December.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment soared by 312,000 jobs in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 176,000 jobs in November.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 177,000 jobs compared to the addition of 155,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, suggested the substantial job growth in December would “seem to make a mockery of market fears of an impending recession.”

“Admittedly, employment is a coincident indicator, whereas the ISM manufacturing index, which we learned yesterday fell sharply in December, is a leading indicator,” Ashworth said.

He added, “But, even allowing for that distinction, this employment report suggests the U.S. economy still has considerable forward momentum.”

The report also said the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in December from 3.7 percent in November, while economists had expected the unemployment rate to come in unchanged.

However, the unexpected uptick by the unemployment rate came as the labor force jumped by 419,000 people compared to a much more modest 142,000-person increase in the household survey measure of employment.

The Labor Department said average hourly employee earnings payrolls climbed by 11 cents to $27.48 in December, reflecting a 3.2 percent increase compared to the same month a year ago.

The annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings in December accelerated from the 3.1 percent increase seen in November, reaching its highest level since April of 2009.

Even as the jobs data offset recent concerns about the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted the central bank “will be patient” with monetary policy as it watches the economy evolve.

Powell stressed that monetary policy is not on a “preset path” after the Fed raised interest rates four times in 2018 and forecast two rate hikes in the new year.

“Particularly with muted inflation readings that we’ve seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves,” Powell said.

The Fed chief said the central bank is always prepared to significantly shift the stance of monetary policy if incoming economic data does not meet expectations.

Powell’s comments came as part of a joint discussion with former Fed Chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke at the American Economic Association and Allied Social Science Association annual meeting in Atlanta.

The rally on Wall Street also came after China’s Commerce Ministry said China and the U.S. would hold vice ministerial level trade talks in Beijing this week.

Partly reflecting optimism about trade talks between the U.S. and China, steel stocks turned in some of the market’s best performances. Reflecting the strength in the sector, the NYSE Arca Steel Index surged up by 6.4 percent.

Considerable strength was also visible among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 5.3 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) posted a standout gain after Guggenheim Partners upgraded its rating on the biotech company’s stock to Buy from Neutral.

Oil service stocks also showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Oil Service Index up by 4.6 percent. The strength in the sector came amid a notable increase by the price of crude oil.

Software, semiconductor and computer hardware stocks also saw significant strength, contributing to the rally by the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Most of the other major sectors also moved higher amid broad based buying interest.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Investors Gain N1.09bn as NASD Share Price Rises 9.1%

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NASD Exchange

By Adedapo Adesanya

The unlisted securities market closed the last trading session of the week on a positive note after it appreciated by 0.18 per cent on the back of growth in the share price of NASD Plc.

Business Post reports that the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bulls’ territory on Friday after it closed flat on Thursday.

NASD Plc was the major driver of the return of the bourse to the green region as its value went up during the session by N2.45 or 9.1 per cent to close at N26.99 per unit in contrast to N24.54 per unit it closed at the previous session.

As a result of this, the NASD unlisted security index (NSI) moved up by 1.32 points to 745.44 points from 744.12 points, while the market capitalisation gained N1.09 billion to wrap the day at N615.86 billion in contrast to the previous day’s N614.77 billion.

On the activity chart, there was an improvement as the trading volume surged by 34,985.6 per cent because of the 2.3 million units of shares exchanged by market participants compared with the 6,688 units transacted at the previous session.

In the same vein, the trading value rose by 17,680.6 per cent to N63.4 million from the previous day’s N356,563.60, while the number of deals witnessed a 100 per cent rise as investors carried out 12 deals compared to the six deals executed at the previous session.

At the close of trades, Food Concepts Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 11.4 billion units of its shares worth N14.4 billion, Lighthouse Financial Service Plc followed with 1.1 billion units valued at N546.2 million, while Geo Fluids Plc was in third place with 1.0 billion units worth N700.1 million.

Food Concepts Plc was also the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with 11.4 billion units worth N14.4 billion, trailed by Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc with 456.4 million units valued at N9.2 billion, VFD Group Plc with 10.4 million units valued at N3.5 billion.

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Economy

Naira Trades N414.73/$1 as Cryptos Bleed Heavily

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Cryptos

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange (forex) market by 0.02 per cent or 7 kobo on Friday, December 4.

Data showed that the local currency was sold for N414.73/$1 at the investors’ window yesterday compared with the N414.80/$1 it traded on Thursday.

At the final trading session of the week, the turnover was $103.01 million as against $139.67 million achieved at the preceding session, indicating a $36.66 million or 26.62 per cent decline.

Also, the exchange rate of the Naira to the United States currency recorded a movement on Friday, though downward as the Nigerian currency depreciated by 4 kobo as it closed at N411.74/$1 versus the preceding day’s N411.70/$1.

The local currency, however, appreciated by N2.17 against the British Pound Sterling to settle at N546.26/£1 compared to N548.43/£1 it traded at the previous trading session and 57 kobo against the Euro to trade at N465.68/€1 compared to the preceding day’s N466.25/€1.

At the cryptocurrency market, investors counted a heavy loss as the new variant of the coronavirus called Omicron and hawkish comments by the US Federal Reserve that it could raise interest rates have raised serious concerns, causing cryptos to bleed heavily.

The heaviest loss was suffered by Dash (DASH), which plunged by 35.3 per cent to sell for N66,595.85. Ripple (XRP) depreciated 30.6 per cent to trade at N381.85, while Litecoin (LTC) sold for N66,595.85 after declining by 24.1 per cent.

Dogecoin (DOGE) went down by 22.7 per cent to sell at N90.29, Cardano (ADA) depreciated by 20.8 per cent to N652.82, Bitcoin (BTC) depleted by 16.9 per cent to quote at N26,800,504.20, Ethereum (ETH) equally saw a 16.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N2,100,100.39, Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 12.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N218,577.24, Tron (TRX) went down by 12.7 per cent to trade at N48.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) recorded a 0.1 per cent marginal loss to sell for N554.76.

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Economy

Crude Mixed as Market Remains Unsettled by Omicron Jitters

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Crude Oil Prices

By Adedapo Adesanya

Crude prices closed mixed on Friday, December 3 after erasing earlier big gains on growing worries that rising coronavirus cases and a new variant could reduce global oil demand.

Brent crude gained 21 cents or 0.3 per cent to trade at $69.88 per barrel while on the other hand, the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 24 cents or 0.36 per cent to sell at $66.26 per barrel.

Both benchmarks declined for a sixth week in a row for the first time since November 2018.

Oil prices had witnessed one of the most troubled weeks as the market reeled from the fear brought about by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus with speculations that it could spark new lockdowns and dent fuel demand.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to vaccinate their people to fight the virus, saying travel curbs were not the answer.

Even with this, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) surprised the market on Thursday when it stuck to its plans to add 400,000 barrels per day supply in January.

However, it said it will continue to monitor the market and this could make it change course if demand suffered from measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The alliance said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on January 4.

Analysts noted that with the coronavirus cases rising, the US jobs report for November also didn’t help demand outlook even as the unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low of 4.2 per cent, suggesting the country’s labour market was rapidly tightening.

US employment growth slowed considerably in November amid job losses at retailers and in local government education.

Meanwhile, in Vienna, diplomats attempting to restore the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers face substantial challenges that need urgent solutions, the top European envoy said Friday. Talks are set to resume next week.

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