MarketWatch/Chris Mathews, Robert Shroeder, and Steve Goldstein
Congress confirms Biden’s victory and Trump pledges ‘orderly transition’ after pro-Trump mob storms Capitol

The Senate and House of Representatives in the early hours of Thursday certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election — and President Donald Trump for the first time promised an orderly transition — after protesters broke into the Capitol building earlier in the afternoon and suspended the proceedings.

Vice President Mike Pence read out the final tally giving Biden a 306 to 232 victory, to applause in the chamber. Minutes later, Trump issued a statement promising an orderly transition.

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CNBC/Jeff Cox
Private payrolls post first drop since April as coronavirus spread hits job growth, ADP says

Private payrolls in December contracted for the first time since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report Wednesday from ADP.

The decrease of 123,000 provided a sign that the U.S. economy had cooled considerably heading into the end of 2020. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting growth of 60,000.

December’s decline countered seven straight months of job growth coming out of the massive furloughs instituted in March and April as large swaths of the U.S. economy shut down to combat the Covid-19 spread.

Companies laid off a net 19.4 million workers in April and have recovered 9.9 million since, according to ADP estimates that sometimes have differed widely from the official Labor Department nonfarm monthly payrolls tally. The decline in December followed an increase of 304,000 in November, a number revised lower by 3,000 from the initial estimate.

At an industry level, the battered leisure and hospitality sector led the cuts with 58,000, as states and municipalities brought back restrictions on indoor dining, while outdoor eating became less practical as colder weather set in.

Almost all the layoffs came from companies that employ more than 1,000 workers as hotel and restaurant chains cut back on staff.

Firms in that category slashed 169,000 employees, while small businesses with fewer than 20 workers, also a component of the bar and restaurant industry, reduced head count by 16,000. Franchises saw a loss of 5,300 positions and more cuts are likely to come, as Disney and Marriott in December announced large reductions.

Trade, transportation and utilities reduced staff by 50,000, while the other services category was off by 12,000 and information services cut 6,000. Manufacturing also saw a loss of 21,000 positions and education declined by 1,000.

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Reuters/Sumita Layek
Gold firms as Democrat-led U.S. Senate boosts stimulus hopes

Gold prices rose on Thursday as a Democrat sweep of Georgia’s Senate runoffs boosted expectations of additional U.S. stimulus, although soaring Treasury yields held back bullion below a two-month high scaled in the previous session.

Spot gold advanced 0.4% to $1,925.90 per ounce by 0652 GMT. U.S. gold futures climbed 1% to $1,927.10.

had declined as much as 2.5% after scaling a high since Nov. 9 on Wednesday, as 10-year U.S. Treasury yields jumped above 1% for the first time since March.

“We’re just seeing a bit of a corrective move after gold bottomed out from the overall sell-off on Wednesday” as markets consider the economic and asset impact of further stimulus, said DailyFX currency strategist Ilya Spivak.

U.S. inflation expectations rose in anticipation of more stimulus after Democrats gained control of the Senate with victories in Georgia’s two runoff elections.

Many investors view non-yielding bullion as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement that they fear could result from large stimulus measures.

Capping gold’s advance, yields remained firm above 1% and helped dollar rebound from a multi-year low. A stronger dollar makes gold expensive for holders of other currencies.

Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said, “U.S. yields would have to move quite a bit higher to derail the dollar bear market.”

“The dollar is going to depreciate all through 2021, U.S. yields may move slightly higher from here, but they’re not going to run away to the top, in that environment gold should flourish.”

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CNBC/Stephanie Landsman
Coronavirus surge will spark ‘reckoning’ on Wall Street this month, National Securities’ Art Hogan warns

National Securities’ Art Hogan sees trouble brewing in the market.

Even though the major indexes closed higher on Tuesday, he sees the coronavirus case surge overtaking positive vaccine news as a market driver — resulting in a 5% to 8% pullback.

“We have a tug of war between virus news and vaccine news the better part of six months, and that’s been balanced off by stimulus,” the firm’s chief market strategist told CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “That seems to be behind us, and right now I think the virus news takes over a little bit.”

His primary concern is the impact of soaring virus cases, hospitalizations and continued lockdowns.

“We do have to come to a reckoning with how much economic damage happens,” said Hogan. “I don’t think we’ve priced in the economic damage that will follow in the wake of this, and I think that’s what the market is going to start to glom onto.”

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