Joe Biden Takes Charge
The US stock market traded higher on Wednesday’s early session as Joe Biden officially succeeded Donald Trump at the White House. Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America on Capitol Hill and Vice President Kamala Harris also took her oath.
This year’s inauguration is different from earlier ones as its attendance is limited to about 1,000 people due to the global pandemic.
Outgoing President Donald Trump did not attend the event and became the first president in 152 years to skip his successor’s inauguration. According to US media, Trump left Washington, DC prior to the swearing-in ceremony after holding a farewell event at Joint Base Andrews.
Earlier on Wednesday while giving his final speech as President, Trump said, “We will be back in some form”. He also wished the next administration “great success” because they have the “foundations” for it, but he also wished them “great luck.”
As one of his last acts in office, outgoing President Donald Trump pardoned Steve Bannon one of his former advisors who was jailed on fraud charges related to crowdfunding for Trump’s wall on the Mexican border. Trump also pardoned Eliott Broidy and Kwame Kilpatrick, who were charged with being an unregistered foreign agent and for fraud, respectively. Also pardoned was Trump’s former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, as well as his 2016 campaign advisors Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.
However, requests for him to pardon whistleblower Julian Assange were futile.
Joe’s Executive Orders
US Media also reported that incoming President Joe Biden plans on signing sweeping executive orders on his first day in the office and most of which will roll back his predecessor’s most publicized actions.
Among the executive orders planned is the signing of an order to “re-engage” with the World Health Organization after Trump withdrew the US from the WHO, as well as one to rejoin the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Biden will sign orders extending eviction and foreclosure moratoriums during the pandemic, extending student loan pauses, an order to advance racial equality, one for preserving protections for so-called Dreamers and a reversal on the ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries.
Biden is set to sign an order designed to stop construction of Trump’s wall along the border with Mexico, a central piece of the outgoing president’s campaign.
Alibaba Shares Rise on Jack Ma’s Public Appearance
Shares of Chinese multinational technology Alibaba rose by as much as 8% at the New York Stock Exchange and at the end of the trading day in Hong Kong after the company’s founder Jack Ma made a public appearance for the first time in three months.
During Ma’s absence, some concerns arose over his wellbeing since he did not show up in a final episode of a reality show he judges. The last time Ma was seen before today’s video conference with teachers was at a forum in Shanghai where he criticized tech regulations in China. Meanwhile, China started an anti-monopoly probe into Alibaba and reports said President Xi Jinping had personally blocked Ant Group’s initial public offering.
US Stock Market Earnings Report
American on-demand content platform Netflix Inc. on Tuesday released its earnings for the fourth quarter with revenue increasing by 21.5% to $6.7 billion.
Operating income rose 108% to $954 million while net income was down 8% to $542 million.
The number of global streaming paid memberships grew by 8.51 million (21.9%) to reach 203.66 million in total.
On Wednesday, Netflix shares rose by nearly 15% following the impressive Q4 Earnings report. The company also announced it was considering share buybacks.
Morgan Stanley’s Q4
Morgan Stanley revealed its net revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 landed at $13.6 billion, up by 25.2% in comparison to the same period last year. Its net income stood at $3.4 billion, up by 54.5% year-on-year, while its diluted earnings per share (EPS) rose from $1.30 to $1.81.
For the entire fiscal year, the company’s revenue came in at $48 billion, up by 16% compared to 2019. Meanwhile, its net income increased by 22% to $11 billion, and the EPS grew from $5.19 to $6.49.
“The firm produced a very strong quarter and record full-year results, with excellent performance across all three businesses and geographies,” the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James P. Gorman said. “We enter 2021 with significant momentum, and I am very confident in our competitive position and our opportunities for continued growth.”
American multinational consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) released its earnings for the second quarter of 2021 with net sales advancing 8% to stand at $19.7 billion.
“We remain focused on executing our strategies of superiority, productivity, constructive disruption and improving P&G’s organization and culture. These strategies enabled us to build strong business momentum before the COVID crisis, accelerated our progress in the calendar year 2020 and remain the right strategies to deliver balanced growth and value creation over the long term,” said P&G president and CEO David Taylor.
Moderna targets 100M vaccine doses production by end of March
American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna Inc. said on Tuesday the company’s goal was to produce 100 million doses of its vaccine against COVID-19 by the end of March.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company’s CEO Stephane Bancel said the company was “well on track” to deliver the aforementioned number of shots in the first 100 days of President Joe Biden’s tenure as head of state, in accordance with “the president’s goal.”
Earlier this month, Bancel stated Moderna’s vaccine should be effective against new variants of coronavirus, originating from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa.
Ford ordered to recall 3 million cars over air bag issues
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Tuesday ordered Ford Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. to recall 3 million cars with potentially faulty Takata air bags.
The defective airbags, which were known to explode and hurl shrapnel, caused at least 27 deaths and over 400 injuries worldwide. They prompted the largest auto recall in history, with approximately 100 million vehicles withdrawn globally. Out of the figure, 67 million cars were from the United States.
UK inflation at 0.6% in December
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the United Kingdom increased 0.6% in December, compared to the same month a year before, the Office for National Statistics reported on Wednesday. The index rose from 0.3% in November. Including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) the 12-month inflation rate stood at 0.8% in December, climbing from 0.6% recorded in June.
Prices in recreation and culture, as well as the rising cost of transport, contributed most to the increase in inflation. Meanwhile, a decrease was seen in food and non-alcoholic beverage prices, minimizing some of the inflation increase overall.
Pound touches 32-month high versus dollar
The pound sterling on Wednesday rose by almost 0.50% versus the dollar to reach levels last observed in May 2018.
The rise of the pound was mainly driven by the removal of uncertainty regarding the trade conditions between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
This comes after the European Commission on Tuesday said it had reformed its Task Force for Relations with the UK, which led the negotiations between the European Union and Britain during the post-Brexit transition period, into the Service for the EU–UK Agreements (UKS), which will become operational on March 1, 2021.
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