Plus, initial jobless claims for last week were released, Democrats and Republicans are still in a standoff over the Trump impeachment trial, and Interpol issued an arrest warrant to Lebanon for ousted Nissan chair Ghosn.
Stocks started the new year off strong with the Dow adding 116 points, or 0.4%, at the open. The S&P 500 gained 0.2%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.5% higher.
Initial jobless claims slipped last week to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ending December 28, according to a report from the Labor Department, marking the third consecutive weekly decline. However, the four-week moving average for initial jobless claims rose to 233,250, up from an average of 228,500 the week prior. While the four-week average for initial claims are still trending near a 50-year low, falling claims signal that employers aren’t laying off workers but claims leveling out or ticking up slightly, it can be a warning for an upcoming rise in unemployment. Continuing jobless claims rose to 1.728 million from 1.723 the week before, while economists anticipated a decline to 1.68 million.
Democrats and Republicans are still in a standoff over the terms for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. According to a report from Bloomberg, the two-week congressional holiday has produced no new negotiations on the matter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off on sending over the two articles of impeachment against Trump until Senate Republicans agree to a “fair” process for the trial, and will be coordinating the negotiations with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to deliver a statement on the Senate floor tomorrow criticizing the Democrats’ position. Rudy Giuliani, a central figure in the Ukraine scandal, said that he is willing to testify at the impeachment trial, saying that he has learned of “vast” corruption involving Democrats and Ukraine.
Lebanon received an arrest warrant from Interpol for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn today after his daring escape from Japan this week. Ghosn had been in Japan facing charges related to alleged financial crimes and announced he had escaped to Lebanon, where he has citizenship, on Tuesday. Lebanon has said that it does not extradite citizens to foreign states, but it was unclear if the Interpol warrant—which calls on authorities there to arrest the wanted person—would see Ghosn summoned in for questioning over the warrant. Ghosn said in a statement today that his family played no role in his escape. “I alone organized my departure,” he said, while also decrying the “injustice and political persecution” of the Japanese judicial system.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reportedly passed on an opportunity to buy Tiffany following the jeweler receiving a takeover offer from LVMH. The jeweler approached Berkshire Hathaway and four other potential bidders after rejecting LVMH’s first offer, though none were interested in topping the $135 per share bid. Tiffany’s board ultimately approved a $16.2 billion takeover by LVMH and shareholders will vote on the deal on February 4.
Stocks We’re Watching
Urovant Sciences (NASDAQ: UROV): Urovant shares jumped 18% on the last day of the year after submitting a New Drug Application (NDA) to the FDA seeking approval for its once-daily, 75 mg vibegron, a treatment for patients with overactive bladder. “Our NDA submission for vibegron is a significant milestone for our company and brings us one step closer to potentially providing a new oral therapy to highly dissatisfied market, said Urovant CEO Keith Katkin in a statement. “The symptoms of overactive bladder affect over 30 million people in the U.S. Vibegron, if approved next year, would be the first new branded prescription drug for the treatment of OAB in nearly a decade.”
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