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US stocks bear losses amid political woes in Washington



New York, Sep 29 (IANS) US stocks finished the week on a downbeat note, as the market was weighed by a series of mixed economic releases that point to the health of the US economy and Wall Street assessed the possible impact of an impeachment investigation against US President Donald Trump.

In the week ending September 27, the Dow dropped 0.42 per cent. The S&P 500 lost 1.28 per cent, and the Nasdaq retreated 2.18 per cent.

This week marked generally flat trading sessions for the market with a mixed start and a low ending, with the three major indexes closing in green on Wednesday, the only day of the week extending gains.

“The market is telling us that investors remain cautiously optimistic regardless of the recent disappointing macroeconomic data. Dips have been shallow and the market remains in striking distance of all time highs,” Mark Otto, global market commentator at electronic market maker GTS, told Xinhua on Friday.

“We are witnessing sector rotation in the S&P 500 and this week safe haven plays including utilities and consumer staples (sectors) outperformed all others,” the experienced trader at New York Stock Exchange added.

Wall Street have adopted a wait-and-see stance on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to initiate formal impeachment inquiry against Trump.

In a released memo of the phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump suggested that Zelensky cooperate with US Attorney General William Barr in investigating into how Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stopped a prosecution of a Ukrainian company, which might be related to his son, Hunter Biden.

The release came one day after Pelosi announced to initiate an official impeachment inquiry against Trump over the controversial phone call on July 25.

Pelosi said she would direct six House committees to proceed with their investigations into Trump “under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”

The US House Intelligence Committee released on Thursday morning a whistleblower complaint. The nine-page document exposed details on Trump’s controversial phone call, and stressed that White House officials had intervened to “lock down” all records of the call.

“The market is taking Pelosi’s announcement in stride. The fact of the matter is that no standing President has been forced to leave office as a result of an impeachment inquiry including the most recent which was President Clinton,” Otto noted.

The market reaction is likely to be limited at the moment, and this would not have a material impact on the real economy, Swiss investment UBS said in a research report on Thursday.

Wall Street seem to focus more on Trump’s trade policy than his risk of impeachment. “The wild card here is how this may impact White House decisions on trade negotiations,” the bank stressed.

Meanwhile, Wall Street has digested an array of economic data.

On the economic front, the index of consumer sentiment picked up to 93.2 in September as boosted by more favourable income trends, especially among middle-income households, the University of Michigan said Friday in its widely-watched survey.

Yet consumers voiced concerns over rising levels of economic uncertainty, caused basically by partisanship, the global economy and domestic economic policies, according to Richard Curtin, Surveys of Consumers chief economist of the university.

What’s worse, US consumer confidence index weakened to 125.1 in September, a sharp fall from August’s 134.2, New York-based business research group the Conference Board said Tuesday.

“The escalation in trade and tariff tensions in late August appears to have rattled consumers,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the group, in a statement.

“While confidence could continue hovering around current levels for months to come, at some point this continued uncertainty will begin to diminish consumers’ confidence in the expansion,” Franco noted.

Personal income increased $73.5 billion, or 0.4 per cent, in August, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported on Friday.

Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), a key metric of household spending, rose $20.1 billion, or 0.1 per cent, which involved increases in spending for goods, primarily for recreational goods and vehicles, as well as falls in spending for services, mainly for food services and accommodations.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August climbed 0.2 per cent to $250.7 billion, marking the third consecutive monthly growth, the US Census Bureau said Friday.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods last month also increased 0.1 per cent to $254.2 billion, following a 1.2 per cent decrease in July.

US initial jobless claims increased 3,000 to 213,000 in the week ending September 21 on a weekly basis, the Labour Department said Thursday.

The 4-week moving average reached 212,000, a decrease of 750 from the previous week’s revised average.

US real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of 2 per cent in Q2, according to the third estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Thursday.

The growth came sharply down from the 3.1 per cent pace in the first quarter, amid downward revisions to imports, a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, PCE and nonresidential fixed investment.

Yet upward revisions to state and local government spending and exports helped offset those downward revisions.


Amazon Quiz Answers Today, November 25, 2020: Answer and Win Rs 5000 Pay Balance

Amazon quiz Answers Today, November 25, 2020: The Amazon Quiz for November 25, 2020, is live and today you have the chance to Win Rs 5000 Pay Balance.




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Congress opposes move to let corporates enter banking sector





New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday opposed the proposal to allow corporates and business houses enter the banking sector, contending that this move will leave the depositors at their mercy as it happened in the case of Yes Bank and Laxmi Vilas Bank.

Addressing a press conference, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said: “The Congress party condemns the proposal and demands that the government, unequivocally and forthwith, declare that it has no intention of pursuing the proposal.”

“We call upon all the people of India and all political parties and trade unions to join us in resolutely opposing the retrograde idea of allowing corporates and business houses to enter the banking sector and set up banks,” he added.

The Congress alleged that the proposal, ostensibly based on a report of an RBI Internal Working Group, has the fingerprints of the Modi government written all over it.

This proposal, along with some other recommendations, is part of a deeper game plan to control the banking industry, it said, claiming that the proposal, if implemented, will completely reverse the enormous gains made in the last 50 years of retrieving the banking sector from the clutches of business houses.

Noting that all over the world, especially in developed economies, three principles govern banking — broad-based shareholding reflecting shareholder democracy, strict separation of ownership and management with ownership with shareholders and management in professional hands, and prohibition of connected lending, Chidambaram said that all three will be thrown out of the window if corporates and business houses are allowed to set up banks.

“Bank funds belong to the depositors who are the people of this country. As a proportion of total deposits, the equity of a bank is minuscule. The total deposits in the banking industry is of the order of Rs 140 lakh crore… If business houses are allowed to own banks, they will, with a small equity investment, control very large amounts of the nation’s financial resources. This must not happen and the Congress will strive its utmost to ensure that this will not happen,” Chidambaram said.

He said that it “is shocking that such an idea should have been presented to the people as though it has the imprimatur of experts and the endorsement of the RBI”.

“Just as the RBI was the cat’s paw of the government in the saga of demonetisation, the RBI is being used by the government to push through its dangerous agenda,” he said.

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Brent hits highest since March, spurred by coronavirus vaccine hopes

This follows positive trial results from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.




Brent Crude Oil

SINGAPORE: Brent crude prices hit their highest levels since March as news of a third promising coronavirus vaccine candidate spurred hopes of a quicker recovery in oil demand, while U.S. President-elect Joe Biden received the go-ahead to begin his leadership transition.

Brent crude futures rose 43 cents, or 0.9%, to $46.49 a barrel by 0522 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude added 45 cents, or 1.1%, to $43.51 a barrel.

Brent rose to a session high of $46.56 earlier on Tuesday, the highest level traded since early March before Saudi Arabia initiated a price war with Russia, which sent oil prices crashing. Both oil benchmarks settled up about 2% on Monday after gaining about 5% last week.

“Progress on developing and distributing a vaccine de-risks the path back to normal for oil markets,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at financial services firm Axi.

“If mobility data is a measure of oil price sentiment, in the not too distant future, the vaccine will get people back on airplanes and cruise ships.”

AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.

This follows positive trial results from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Also helping to ease uncertainty in financial markets, President Donald Trump on Monday allowed officials to proceed with a transition to Joe Biden’s incoming administration, giving his rival access to briefings and funding even as he vowed to persist with efforts to fight the election results.

U.S. crude oil inventories likely edged lower last week, while distillate stockpiles were seen decreasing for a 10th straight week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday, ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute and the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Traders also focused on a week of technical meetings by OPEC and its allies to prepare the ground for next week’s ministerial gathering, which is set to discuss extending oil output curbs into next year due to weak demand amid a second wave of COVID-19.

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