Stocks Lose Steam as Nerves Persist, Euro Dips

A gauge of world equities was little changed after giving up early gains on Thursday, continuing a pattern seen for the past several sessions, while the euro eased after the European Central Bank formally ended its bond purchasing scheme.

In the United States, the S&P and Nasdaq finished in the red while the Dow closed well off its session highs as cautious trade optimism faded.

Nervousness has heightened volatility in stocks recently, with a tendency for stocks to lose morning gains as the day wears on. 

In Beijing, a commerce ministry spokesman said China and the United States were in close contact over trade, and any U.S. trade delegation would be welcome to visit.  

Although signs of a trade thaw have been welcomed by investors, other worries have kept stocks from sustaining gains.

“It’s a market that’s been very nervous. Investors get excited in the morning and then their fears come back,” said Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer of equities at Charles Schwab Investment Management in San Francisco. 

“We need a catalyst to get us a more consistent trend — it could be good economic data or more clarity on the Fed’s intentions for next year or more certainty in U.S.-China. I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.”

Dow Jones rises while S&P 500 dips

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 70.11 points, or 0.29 percent, to 24,597.38, the S&P 500 lost 0.53 points, or 0.02 percent, to 2,650.54 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 27.98 points, or 0.39 percent, to 7,070.33.

U.S. economic data showed jobless claims fell last week to near 49-year lows, while import prices dropped as the cost of petroleum products tumbled. Shares in Europe edged lower to snap a two-session winning streak, as concerns about Britain’s exit from the European Union and euro zone growth outweighed a budget compromise in Italy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.17 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.05 percent.

Help from ECB to continue

Britain’s weakened prime minister, Theresa May, survived a late night no-confidence vote, and then said she did not expect a quick breakthrough in Brexit talks that would help get the deal through parliament. 

The ECB officially ended its post-crisis asset purchase program but promised to keep feeding stimulus into an economy struggling with an unexpected slowdown and political turmoil.

The euro and sterling were choppy on the Brexit uncertainty and in the wake of comments from ECB President Mario Draghi investors viewed as dovish following the policy announcement.

Dollar index slightly up 

The dollar index rose 0.02 percent, with the euro down 0.04 percent to $1.1363.

Sterling, rebounding from earlier declines, was last trading at $1.2662, up 0.26 percent on the day.

Oil prices were higher after data showed inventory declines in the United States and as investors began to expect the global oil market could have a deficit sooner than previously thought.

U.S. crude settled up 2.8 percent at $52.58 per barrel and Brent was last at $61.45, up 2.16 percent.

 

  

  

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House GOP Leader: Government Shutdown Would Be ‘stupid’

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says a looming government shutdown would be “stupid” but might be unavoidable if Democrats refuse to support President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico.

The California Republican said Thursday that even if House Republicans cobble together enough votes to approve the wall, the plan is likely to fail in the Senate. Democrats in that chamber have vowed to block it from receiving the necessary 60 votes.

McCarthy said he thinks “going into a shutdown is stupid,” but he offered no immediate plan ahead of a December 21 deadline. The House adjourned for six days after his remarks.

McCarthy’s comments put him at odds with Trump, who said this week he’d be “proud to shut down the government” in the name of border security.

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House GOP Leader: Government Shutdown Would Be ‘stupid’

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says a looming government shutdown would be “stupid” but might be unavoidable if Democrats refuse to support President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico.

The California Republican said Thursday that even if House Republicans cobble together enough votes to approve the wall, the plan is likely to fail in the Senate. Democrats in that chamber have vowed to block it from receiving the necessary 60 votes.

McCarthy said he thinks “going into a shutdown is stupid,” but he offered no immediate plan ahead of a December 21 deadline. The House adjourned for six days after his remarks.

McCarthy’s comments put him at odds with Trump, who said this week he’d be “proud to shut down the government” in the name of border security.

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Pelosi: 4-Year Maximum in Speaker Post Is ‘a Long Time’

Rep. Nancy Pelosi shrugged off suggestions Thursday that she weakened herself by agreeing to limit her tenure as next House speaker to a four-year maximum, a deal that clears the way for her to be elected to the post for the new Congress.

“That’s a long time,” she said at a news conference a day after she and seven insurgents who’d been pushing for younger leadership announced their pact.

For weeks, the 78-year-old California Democrat had resisted opponents’ demands that she step aside or restrict how long she’d serve, saying limits would make her a lame duck and sap her bargaining clout. But on Wednesday she relented and struck a deal that all but guarantees she’ll be elected when the House votes on its new speaker on January 3.

“What, four years? No, I don’t think that’s a lame duck,” she told a group of reporters afterward.

Democrats widely agreed that the pledge meant Pelosi had clinched a comeback to the post she held from 2007 until January 2011, the last time her party ran the House and the first time the speaker was a woman.

Wednesday’s accord gives Pelosi a clear path to becoming the most powerful Democrat in government and a leading role in confronting President Donald Trump during the upcoming 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

It moves a 78-year-old white woman to the cusp of steering next year’s diverse crop of House Democrats, with its large number of female, minority and younger members.

The agreement also ends what’s been a distracting, harsh leadership fight among Democrats that has been waged since Election Day, when they gained at least 39 seats and grabbed House control for the next Congress. It was their biggest gain of House seats since the 1974 post-Watergate election.

Democrats have been hoping to train public attention on their 2019 agenda focusing on health care, jobs and wages, and building infrastructure projects. They also envision investigations of Trump, his 2016 presidential campaign and his administration.

To line up support, Pelosi initially resorted to full-court lobbying by congressional allies, outside Democratic luminaries, and liberal and labor organizations. She cut deals with individual lawmakers for committee assignments and roles leading legislative efforts.

But in the end, she had to make concessions about her tenure to make sure she’ll win a majority — likely 218 votes — when the new House votes. Democrats are likely to have 235 seats, meaning she could spare only 17 defections and still prevail if, as expected, Republicans all oppose her.

Pelosi had described herself as a transitional leader over the last several weeks. But she’d resisted defining how long she would serve as speaker, saying it would lessen her negotiating leverage to declare herself a lame duck.

On Wednesday, she gave in to her opponents’ demands that she limit her service. Under the deal, House Democrats will vote by February 15 to change party rules to limit their top three leaders to no more than four two-year terms, including time they’ve already spent in those jobs.

“I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said in her statement.

Pelosi’s opponents have argued it was time for younger leaders to command the party. They also said her demonization as an out-of-touch radical in tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Republican television ads was costing Democrats seats.

While some Democrats are still certain to vote against Pelosi — especially incoming freshmen who promised to do so during their campaigns — most Democrats have remained solidly behind her. She’s been a strong fundraiser and unrelenting liberal who doesn’t shy from political combat, and her backers complained that her opponents were mostly white men who were largely more moderate than most House Democrats.

Pressure to back Pelosi seemed to grow after she calmly went toe-to-toe with Trump at a nationally televised verbal brawl in the Oval Office on Tuesday over his demands for congressional approval of $5 billion for his proposed border wall with Mexico.

“We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders,” the rebellious lawmakers said in a written statement.

To be nominated to a fourth term under the agreement, Pelosi would need to garner a two-thirds majority of House Democrats. Several aides said they believed restlessness by younger members to move up in leadership would make that difficult for her to achieve.

The limits would also apply to Pelosi’s top lieutenants, No. 2 leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and No. 3 leader James Clyburn of South Carolina. Both are also in their late 70s.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., was among 16 Democrats who had signed a letter demanding new leadership but who ultimately helped negotiate the deal with Pelosi.

Joining Perlmutter in saying they would now back her were Democratic Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; Tim Ryan of Ohio; Bill Foster of Illinois; Linda Sanchez and Rep.-elect Gil Cisernos, both of California; and Filemon Vela of Texas.

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Pelosi: 4-Year Maximum in Speaker Post Is ‘a Long Time’

Rep. Nancy Pelosi shrugged off suggestions Thursday that she weakened herself by agreeing to limit her tenure as next House speaker to a four-year maximum, a deal that clears the way for her to be elected to the post for the new Congress.

“That’s a long time,” she said at a news conference a day after she and seven insurgents who’d been pushing for younger leadership announced their pact.

For weeks, the 78-year-old California Democrat had resisted opponents’ demands that she step aside or restrict how long she’d serve, saying limits would make her a lame duck and sap her bargaining clout. But on Wednesday she relented and struck a deal that all but guarantees she’ll be elected when the House votes on its new speaker on January 3.

“What, four years? No, I don’t think that’s a lame duck,” she told a group of reporters afterward.

Democrats widely agreed that the pledge meant Pelosi had clinched a comeback to the post she held from 2007 until January 2011, the last time her party ran the House and the first time the speaker was a woman.

Wednesday’s accord gives Pelosi a clear path to becoming the most powerful Democrat in government and a leading role in confronting President Donald Trump during the upcoming 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

It moves a 78-year-old white woman to the cusp of steering next year’s diverse crop of House Democrats, with its large number of female, minority and younger members.

The agreement also ends what’s been a distracting, harsh leadership fight among Democrats that has been waged since Election Day, when they gained at least 39 seats and grabbed House control for the next Congress. It was their biggest gain of House seats since the 1974 post-Watergate election.

Democrats have been hoping to train public attention on their 2019 agenda focusing on health care, jobs and wages, and building infrastructure projects. They also envision investigations of Trump, his 2016 presidential campaign and his administration.

To line up support, Pelosi initially resorted to full-court lobbying by congressional allies, outside Democratic luminaries, and liberal and labor organizations. She cut deals with individual lawmakers for committee assignments and roles leading legislative efforts.

But in the end, she had to make concessions about her tenure to make sure she’ll win a majority — likely 218 votes — when the new House votes. Democrats are likely to have 235 seats, meaning she could spare only 17 defections and still prevail if, as expected, Republicans all oppose her.

Pelosi had described herself as a transitional leader over the last several weeks. But she’d resisted defining how long she would serve as speaker, saying it would lessen her negotiating leverage to declare herself a lame duck.

On Wednesday, she gave in to her opponents’ demands that she limit her service. Under the deal, House Democrats will vote by February 15 to change party rules to limit their top three leaders to no more than four two-year terms, including time they’ve already spent in those jobs.

“I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said in her statement.

Pelosi’s opponents have argued it was time for younger leaders to command the party. They also said her demonization as an out-of-touch radical in tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Republican television ads was costing Democrats seats.

While some Democrats are still certain to vote against Pelosi — especially incoming freshmen who promised to do so during their campaigns — most Democrats have remained solidly behind her. She’s been a strong fundraiser and unrelenting liberal who doesn’t shy from political combat, and her backers complained that her opponents were mostly white men who were largely more moderate than most House Democrats.

Pressure to back Pelosi seemed to grow after she calmly went toe-to-toe with Trump at a nationally televised verbal brawl in the Oval Office on Tuesday over his demands for congressional approval of $5 billion for his proposed border wall with Mexico.

“We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders,” the rebellious lawmakers said in a written statement.

To be nominated to a fourth term under the agreement, Pelosi would need to garner a two-thirds majority of House Democrats. Several aides said they believed restlessness by younger members to move up in leadership would make that difficult for her to achieve.

The limits would also apply to Pelosi’s top lieutenants, No. 2 leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and No. 3 leader James Clyburn of South Carolina. Both are also in their late 70s.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., was among 16 Democrats who had signed a letter demanding new leadership but who ultimately helped negotiate the deal with Pelosi.

Joining Perlmutter in saying they would now back her were Democratic Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; Tim Ryan of Ohio; Bill Foster of Illinois; Linda Sanchez and Rep.-elect Gil Cisernos, both of California; and Filemon Vela of Texas.

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Trump Welcoming Governors-elect to White House

President Donald Trump is welcoming governors-elect from both parties to the White House.

Among those attending Thursday are Florida Republican Ron DeSantis, Georgia Republican Brian Kemp, Illinois Democrat J.B. Pritzker, Wisconsin Democrat Tony Evers and newly-inaugurated Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican.

White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Doug Hoelscher says they’ll be discussing “shared priorities,” including workforce investment, prison reform and combatting the opioid epidemic.

The visitors will also be meeting with Cabinet members as part of a broader White House outreach effort to local officials.

The White House says that, after the midterm elections, it has reached out to a long list of newly-elected state and local officials of both parties “to open lines of communication and begin a dialogue.”

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Apple Deepens Austin Ties, Expands Operations East and West

Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.

The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.

The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.

Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.

Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.

That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.

While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.

Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.

Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.

Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.

“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.

Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.

Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.

Amazon, too, expands

Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.

Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy, with those employees filling restaurants, theaters, buying property and paying taxes.

Annual pay will vary at the new locations, but Apple workers in Cupertino have an average annual salary of about $125,000, according to a report the company submitted to the city.

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Apple Deepens Austin Ties, Expands Operations East and West

Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.

The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.

The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.

Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.

Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.

That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.

While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.

Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.

Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.

Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.

“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.

Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.

Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.

Amazon, too, expands

Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.

Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy, with those employees filling restaurants, theaters, buying property and paying taxes.

Annual pay will vary at the new locations, but Apple workers in Cupertino have an average annual salary of about $125,000, according to a report the company submitted to the city.

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Virgin Galactic’s New Flight Test to Soar Closer to Edge of Space

Virgin Galactic is preparing for a new flight test Thursday that aims to fly higher and faster than before toward the edge of space.

The U.S. company run by British tycoon Richard Branson is aiming to be the first to take tourists on brief trips into microgravity.

Virgin Galactic’s fourth flight test on the VSS Unity is scheduled for Thursday, weather permitting.

The flight will take off from a spaceport in Mojave, California.

The vessel does not launch from Earth but is carried to a higher altitude — about nine miles (15 kilometers) high — attached to an airplane.

Then, two pilots on the VSS Unity fire the engines toward the frontier of space, typically defined as an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers).

In July, after burning the rocket motor for 42 seconds, the VSS Unity reached a height of 32 miles, a part of the atmosphere called the mesosphere.

Commercial airplanes typically fly at an altitude of about six miles.

The VSS Unity reached a top speed of over 1,530 miles per hour, or beyond Mach 2.

“Overall the goal of this flight is to fly higher and faster than previous flights,” said a statement from Virgin Galactic.

“If all goes to plan our pilots will experience an extended period of microgravity as VSS Unity coasts to apogee, although — being pilots — they will remain securely strapped in throughout.”

Another U.S. rocket company, Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is also racing to be the first to send tourists to space, but using a small rocket to get there.

Virgin’s first flight date has been pushed back multiple times, following a test flight accident that killed a co-pilot in 2014.

Branson told CNN in November he hoped to send people to space “before Christmas.”

More than 600 clients have already paid $250,000 for a ticket.

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Virgin Galactic’s New Flight Test to Soar Closer to Edge of Space

Virgin Galactic is preparing for a new flight test Thursday that aims to fly higher and faster than before toward the edge of space.

The U.S. company run by British tycoon Richard Branson is aiming to be the first to take tourists on brief trips into microgravity.

Virgin Galactic’s fourth flight test on the VSS Unity is scheduled for Thursday, weather permitting.

The flight will take off from a spaceport in Mojave, California.

The vessel does not launch from Earth but is carried to a higher altitude — about nine miles (15 kilometers) high — attached to an airplane.

Then, two pilots on the VSS Unity fire the engines toward the frontier of space, typically defined as an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers).

In July, after burning the rocket motor for 42 seconds, the VSS Unity reached a height of 32 miles, a part of the atmosphere called the mesosphere.

Commercial airplanes typically fly at an altitude of about six miles.

The VSS Unity reached a top speed of over 1,530 miles per hour, or beyond Mach 2.

“Overall the goal of this flight is to fly higher and faster than previous flights,” said a statement from Virgin Galactic.

“If all goes to plan our pilots will experience an extended period of microgravity as VSS Unity coasts to apogee, although — being pilots — they will remain securely strapped in throughout.”

Another U.S. rocket company, Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is also racing to be the first to send tourists to space, but using a small rocket to get there.

Virgin’s first flight date has been pushed back multiple times, following a test flight accident that killed a co-pilot in 2014.

Branson told CNN in November he hoped to send people to space “before Christmas.”

More than 600 clients have already paid $250,000 for a ticket.

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