CNN Business/Matt Egan
He says Fidelity wouldn’t let him sell during Reddit mayhem, costing him $830,000

Robinhood is in hot water for banning investors from buying GameStop during part of last month’s Reddit-driven market mayhem. And now Fidelity is being accused of preventing one investor from selling some Reddit darlings, a move he says cost him $830,000.

Louis Hernandez filed a claim with Wall Street’s self-regulator against Fidelity Brokerage Services on Thursday for blocking his attempts to unload shares of Nokia (NOK) and AMC (AMC) on January 28, his lawyer told CNN Business. Hernandez, who lives in Arizona, eventually sold the shares at a steep discount from where they had been trading when he initially tried to sell them, the lawyer said.

“It caused a huge loss for our client in a matter of days. It was really devastating,” William Lewis, the lawyer representing Hernandez, said in an interview.

Fidelity said it had not received this specific complaint and does not comment on specific customers. The company said it does not have any restrictions in place, except for customers who trade with borrowed money, known as margin trading. Fidelity said it regularly adjusts margin and risk requirements for individual stocks based on market risks and other factors.

“Fidelity strongly encourages all investors to review their investments and ensure they align with their overall financial plan,” the company said in a statement.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Wall Street’s self-regulating agency to which Hernandez filed, does not publicly release claims and declined to comment.

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South China Morning Post/Enoch Yiu
All signs point to a third straight year of gains for gold in Year of the Ox, analysts say

Gold will continue to rise in the Year of the Ox albeit at a slower pace than the previous two years, aided by low-interest rates, inflationary concerns and the Covid-19 pandemic, according to analysts.

The price of bullion in Hong Kong rose 18 per cent in the Year of the Rat to close at HK$17,050 (US$2,200) per tael (37.8 gram) on Thursday, the last trading day before the Lunar New Year holiday.

“The Year of the Ox is likely to see gold prices rising between 15 and 20 per cent to break through HK$20,000 per tael,” said Haywood Cheung Tak-hay, president of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society.

He said that with the US likely to keep interest rates at near zero for some time and other central banks adopting monetary easing policies to boost the post-pandemic economic recovery, liquidity will inevitably find its way into gold, Cheung said.

The Year of the Ox, which began on Friday, comes second in the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. The 12 animals – which follow in the order of rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig – represent a cycle of 12 years.

Gold’s solid performance in the Year of the Rat follows an identical showing in the Year of the Pig when it rose 18 per cent. In the past five years, the metal has added 61 per cent.

In August, gold breached the US$2,000 level for the first time to reach an all-time high of US$2,075 per ounce, beating the previous record of US$1,920 in 2011. In 2020, gold gained 24 per cent, compared to a 3.4 per cent decline in the Hang Seng Index last year.

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CNBC/Kate Rogers
Main Street business failure fears rise again in pandemic whipsaw

Small business owners have faced a bit of whiplash over the last year as Covid-19 swept the nation, with restrictions leading to closings, reopenings and limited operations in markets across the country at the discretion of state and local leaders.

New data from the Q1 2021 CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey finds that experiences of Main Street entrepreneurs reflect this period of unpredictability.

While just over than half of small business owners say they have been able to remain open throughout the pandemic, 20% of small business owners say their businesses shut down temporarily as a result of the pandemic and have since reopened, but only at limited capacity. In addition, 10% of small business owners say they’ve shut down and have yet to reopen. Another 4% say they’ve shut down, reopened, and then shut down again.

The back and forth has weighed on small business owner sentiment and led the Main Street community to express strong support for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan, according to the survey, which was conducted among 2,111 small business owners nationwide from Jan. 25-Jan. 31 using the SurveyMonkey platform.

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Fox Business/Megan Henney
Over 11M Americans will lose jobless aid on March 14 if Congress doesn’t pass relief package soon, analysis finds

More than 11 million Americans are at risk of losing their unemployment benefits in mid-March if Congress does not pass another relief package before then, according to a new report published this week.

About 11.4 million workers will be left with no income between March 14 and April 11 when two key federal jobless aid programs created a year ago under the CARES Act — and extended in the $900 billion relief package that Congress passed in December — expire, according to a study published Wednesday by the Century Foundation, a nonprofit think tank.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program created to provide jobless benefits to gig workers and others typically not eligible for benefits, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends state unemployment benefits an extra 13 weeks, are both set to lapse in about one month.

Another program that is padding jobless aid by $300 per week will also end on March 14.

“This latest extension is winding down almost as soon as it started,” the Century Foundation report said.

Up to 5 million Americans are expected to use up the extended benefits (PEUC), while 6.4 million will run out out of the PUA benefits over the span of several weeks. An estimated 4 million workers face a so-called “hard cliff,” meaning the aid they are receiving will end abruptly on March 14. A little more than 7 million workers face a “soft cliff,” and will see their benefits end at some point between March 14 and April 11. Even if they are eligible for additional weeks of jobless aid, they will not be able to receive benefits through PEUC or PUA.

Job losses remain elevated as COVID-19 cases across the country continue to trigger lockdown measures.

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