Daily Briefing: Bigger U.S. stimulus cheques? 'Tis the season to be jolly

Sujata Rao
·2-min read
Holiday week train passengers walk by a Christmas tree at Union Station in Washington

By Sujata Rao

It looks like Americans could get $2000 stimulus cheques rather than the originally approved $600 -- if the U.S. Senate plays ball. That prospect sent Wall Street to another record high on Monday, while Japanese shares have scaled a 30-year top and European equities are heading north. Oil prices also reflect optimism for demand recovery after one of the most volatile years ever.

Brexit is out of the way too, though the thorny issue of financial services is up in the air and sterling is strangely subdued around $1.35. CFTC data showed sterling long positions grew in the week to Dec 21 ahead of the trade deal -- the next set of data will reveal whether speculators "sold the fact".

The data showed also that dollar short positions remain in vogue, touching three-month highs. The greenback is at 2-1/2 year lows against a basket of currencies as optimism grows about the economic recovery outside the United States.

Markets are shrugging off the Trump adminstration's move to strengthen an order barring U.S. investors from buying securities of alleged Chinese military-controlled firms. Chinese shares closed weaker however.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Tuesday:

- Jack Ma's Ant Group may fold its financial operations into a holding company that could be regulated more like a bank, Bloomberg News reported. That comes after China asked ANT to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations.

-Britain must vaccinate two million people a week to avoid a third wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

- China's factory activity likely maintained a solid pace of expansion in December, a Reuters poll showed, ahead of Thursday's PMI data.

(Reporting by Sujata Rao)