Asian shares mixed amid tug of war between hope, fear
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mixed in muted trading today after Wall Street eked out modest gains amid a tug of war between worries about the worsening pandemic in the present and optimism that a vaccine will rescue the economy in the future.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped in Friday afternoon trading. Shares fell in Australia, while rising in South Korea and China.
Investors are looking ahead to data out next week on the health of regional economies, including India, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Stocks ended higher on Wall Street Thursday, after flip-flopping much of the day.
China FM to visit Japan to discuss virus, regional concerns
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s foreign minister says his Chinese counterpart will visit Tokyo next week as the two Asian powers discuss ways to resume bilateral visits to revive their pandemic-hit economies and other regional issues.
During the Nov. 24-25 visit, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are expected to discuss resuming business trips between the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 economies through the “business track” program that allows visitors to engage in limited business activity during their 14-day quarantine period.
Japan, New Zealand press for open markets to boost recovery
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Leaders from Japan and New Zealand have warned countries against the temptation of retreating into trade protectionism, saying that keeping markets open is the way to revive a global economy battered by COVID-19.
Speaking by video to a meeting of Asia-Pacific CEOs, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a “free and open Indo-Pacific will be the cornerstone for the prosperity of this region”.
After Sunday’s signing of the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Suga said Japan will next push for a wider free trade pact among the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern voiced hope that APEC leaders will agree on development goals that focus on free trade, digital innovation, and sustainability and inclusion.
FEDERAL RESERVE-EMERGENCY PROGRAMS
Mnuchin rejects renewal of some Fed emergency loan programs
WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he will not extend several emergency loan programs set up with the Federal Reserve, an action that could hamper the ability of the incoming Biden administration to gain important economic support from the central bank to deal with the ongoing pandemic.
The decision drew a terse rebuke from the Fed.
The central bank said it “would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy.”
But in a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Mnuchin said that the Fed’s corporate credit, municipal lending and Main Street Lending programs would not be renewed when they expire on Dec. 31.
Biden says he’s decided on treasury secretary nomination
WASHINGTON 9AP) — President-elect Joe Biden says he has decided whom to nominate as his secretary of the Treasury Department. Biden said Thursday that the announcement will come just before or after Thanksgiving.
Biden says it is someone he thinks will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party.
The leading candidates are thought to be former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard. Either would be the first female treasury secretary.
Also mentioned as possible candidates are former Fed vice chair Roger Ferguson and Raphael Bostic, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Either would be the first Black treasury secretary.
LOW WAGE JOBS
Report: Millions of full-time US workers get government aid
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan congressional watchdog says millions of workers rely on federal health care and food assistance programs because even though they are working full time, they still need government support because of low wages.
A report from the Government Accountability Office shows that approximately 70% of adult workers participating in Medicaid, which provides health care to low-income Americans, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, are working full time but still qualify for government support.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who requested the report, says the GAO findings show that there’s an urgent need to raise the federal minimum wage.
California imposes overnight curfew to stem coronavirus
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed an overnight curfew as the most populous state tries to head off a surge in coronavirus cases. Newsom announced Thursday a limited stay-at-home order in 41 counties that account for nearly the entire state population of just under 40 million people. Starting Saturday, all non-essential work, movement and gatherings must cease between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The move comes only days after the state imposed restrictions limiting business operations in those 41 counties, which have the most significant increases in virus cases. The order will last one month, until Dec. 21, but could be extended.
HOG SMELLS LAWSUIT
Court upholds nuisance verdicts against hog-production giant
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An appeals court has upheld a 2018 jury verdict that led to monetary awards for neighbors of an eastern North Carolina industrial hog operation for its smells and noise. Thursday’s ruling by a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected calls for a new trial by Smithfield Foods. It’s a parent company of the firm sued by Bladen County residents living next to one of its previous contract farmers. Judges did rule the jurors’ massive multimillion-dollar awards to penalize Smithfield as well the Hong Kong-based company that owns Smithfield. Scores of other residents have sued hog farms over similar nuisance claims.