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10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, TSLA)

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Here is what you need to know. 

  1. Trump’s trade war is sending the S&P 500 towards its worst December in 16 yearsThe S&P 500 has fallen 4.6% so far in December, and is on track for its worst closing month of the year since 2002.
  2. China warns of ‘grave consequences’ if Huawei’s CFO isn’t releasedChina summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad to Beijing to protest Canada’s detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and warned that it will take further steps based on the US’s response, the AP reports.
  3. The UK can unilaterally reverse BrexitThe European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, ruled Monday that the UK can reverse Brexit by revoking Article 50 — the mechanism that outlines the steps a country needs to take to exit the bloc.
  4. Japan’s economy just went sharply into reverse. Japan’s economy contracted 2.5% in the third quarter — more than double the preliminary reading of a 1.2% drop — according to government data released Monday.
  5. A bubble in the stock market is bursting — and its demise marks a significant regime change for investorsThe low-volatility bubble is bursting and Bank of America explains why market turbulence is about to become the norm.
  6. Nissan and its ousted CEO have reportedly been indicted. Nissan Motors and former CEO Carlos Ghosn have been indicted for falsifying financial statements, according to reports from Japanese media.
  7. Softbank prices its IPOThe initial public offering, which will be one of the largest of all time, priced at 1,500 Japanese yen per share and will raise 2.65 trillion yen ($23.5 billion), Reuters reports, citing a regulatory filing. 
  8. Elon Musk says he does ‘not respect the SEC.’ Tesla’s CEO told 60 Minutes that he does not respect the Securities and Exchange Commission and that no one has reviewed any of his tweets since his settlement with the agency.
  9. Stock markets around the world are lowerJapan’s Nikkei (-2.12%) led the losses in Europe and Germany’s DAX (-0.43%) trails in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open down 0.18% near 2,628.
  10. US economic data trickles out. JOLTS Job Openings will cross the wires at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up two basis points at 2.86%. 

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Harvard orientation for freshman lawmakers as ‘lobbyist project’ that hypes tax cuts for corporations

Alexandria Ocasio-CortezScott Eisen/Getty Images

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused the congressional orientation program at Harvard Kennedy School for being a "pro-corporate lobbyist project."
  • She said that the event featured lobbyists and bankers who praised policies like a lower minimum wage.
  • "No labor reps were there," she tweeted. "Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time?"
  • Her comments come as she and other newly elected Democratic lawmakers protested the event and instead led a rally for policies like gun control and laws to fight climate change.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused the orientation session for freshman lawmakers at Harvard’s Kennedy School of being a "pro-corporate lobbyist project " that hypes tax cuts for corporations and argues against increasing the minimum wage.

The Democratic congresswoman-elect and other incoming House Democrats have been protesting their own congressional orientation program over the past week.

They argue that the orientation is inherently biased, being being made up of lobbyist and bankers, and with nobody to present workers or grassroots politics.

Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on her earlier criticism on Twitter on Sunday, saying that attendees at the orientation, which has been going on since the 1970s, "heard things like ‘the $2T tax cut was great’ and ‘$15 wage is a bad idea.’

"No labor reps were there," she tweeted. 

"Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time?"

Read More: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promises to pay her interns $15 an hour or more, after slamming unpaid internships in Congress

Ocasio-Cortez was responding to Washington Post reporter Jill Stein, who tweeted that she got a copy of the 2014 Harvard orientation schedule.

She said it showed: "At least 8 lobbyists are listed as panelists, several listed w/o disclosing ties to lobbying firms.

"CEOs of Xerox, American Express were there — no apparent labor leaders/activists," Stein tweeted.

The three-day orientation is hosted by the Harvard Institute of Politics in collaboration with the Congressional Institute and two think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

It aims to help newly elected officials "forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office."

A description of the event on Harvard Kennedy School’s website says: "Experts and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds will cover topics including the federal budget process, key issues in domestic and foreign policy, Congressional reform and current issues related to technology."

Ocasio-Cortez and other newly elected representatives like Ayanna Pressley abandoned their new-member orientation last Tuesday night to lead a rally in support of single-payer healthcare, gun control, and laws to fight climate change.

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a Tuesday rally outside an orientation meeting for incoming members of Congress at Harvard as Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., right, and Rep.-elect Lori Trahan, D-Mass., second from right, look on.Michael Dwyer/AP

Read More: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other new House progressives are tweeting their dissatisfaction with orientation at Harvard

She tweeted on Tuesday that "Our ‘bipartisan’ Congressional orientation is cohosted by a corporate lobbyist group. Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn’t told to us in advance.

"Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where’s labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?"

Rashida Tlaib, another newly elected Democrat, singled out Gary Cohn, a former economic adviser for President Donald Trump, who she said told the incoming lawmakers during a Thursday event that they "don’t know how the game is played" in Washington.

"Gary Cohn, former CEO Goldman Sachs addressing new members of Congress today: ‘You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played,’" Tlaib tweeted. "No Gary, YOU don’t know what’s coming – a revolutionary Congress that puts people over profits."

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British tech startups are increasingly gloomy as Brexit approaches, and it’s already hurting their ability to hire talent

Brexit Remain protestJeff J Mitchell / Getty

  • British tech founders have had a rough 12 months thanks to continuing confusion about Brexit.
  • Founders reported being able to attract less international talent over the last year.
  • UK founders are also more pessimistic about the future of tech than founders from other regions.
  • London is still number one for cash going to startups and the number of deals, but overseas founders may choose to stay put as the UK puts up barriers.

British tech startups continue to feel the effects of Brexit, attracting less international talent over the past 12 months and feeling greater pessimism.

According to a survey of 5,000 tech workers by VC firm Atomico, most European startups outside the UK managed to attract more overseas talent to their businesses, or maintain the same levels. But UK founders saw a decrease.

The yellow bar on the chart below shows the percentage of UK respondents seeing a decrease in international tech talent. Note how the UK’s black bar is much bigger than other regions:

Atomico research showing talent relocatingAtomico/The State of European Tech Survey

Likewise, UK venture-backed startups saw a considerable increase in talent choosing to move abroad. The green bar on the chart below indicates the increase in talent leaving the country:

AtomicoAtomico/State of European Tech Survey

It isn’t all bad news for the UK, and Brexit impacts remain negligible. London is still Europe’s biggest tech city in terms of capital raised and the number of startup deals, with Berlin and Paris still some way behind. Oxford and Cambridge also feature in Atomico’s list of top 20 hubs by capital raised and number of deals.

Read more: How Brexit killed an entrepreneur’s vision to invest in British tech talent

But, Atomico found, startup founders are feeling pretty pessimistic. Here’s a chart showing that the UK is the least optimistic region in Europe about tech:

Atomico chart 2018 UK optimismAtomico

Atomico partner Tom Wehmeier told Business Insider that the UK has historically been highly dependent on foreign talent for tech.

Quite apart from Brexit, he added, London was being challenged by the fact that other cities, which have been poor at retaining tech talent are now looking more attractive, thanks to capital flowing throughout Europe, and stronger local tech communities. Entrepreneurs, he said, are choosing to stay among their own networks rather than head abroad.

"We’re going from a period where the opportunity within the tech industry was historically concentrated geographically. The UK was one of those places, there has been more opportunity than anywhere else and it was a destination of choice," he said. "That opportunity, which was once geographically concentrated, is more spread through the region."

Brexit, he added, was a "compounding factor."

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James Comey urged people to ‘use every breath we have’ to stop Trump from getting reelected in 2020

James ComeyChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Former FBI Director James Comey urged people to "use every breath we have" to make sure "the lies stop" and President Donald Trump is not reelected in 2020.
  • He also urged Democrats to choose a nominee that would beat Trump.
  • He said, however, that impeachment could leave some Americans feeling like there had been a "coup."
  • Comey, a vocal Trump critic, said the president was "certainly close" to being an unindicted co-conspirator in crimes identified in the Russia probe.
  • He also said he had become "numb" to Trump’s criticisms of him.

Former FBI Director James Comey urged people to "use every breath we have" to prevent US President Donald Trump from being reelected in 2020.

Comey told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace on Sunday night, as cited by CNN: "All of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lies stop on January 20, 2021," referring to the next presidential inauguration day.

Comey, a former Republican and frequent Trump critic who now identifies as nonpartisan, urged Democrats to choose the candidate best suited to defeating Trump in the election.

"I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be," Comey told Wallace, "but they have to win. They have to win."

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone via speakerphone with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in the Oval Office of the White House on August 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump announnced that the United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary agreement on trade. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)Win McNamee/Getty Images

He added that he was worried that a third-party candidate, like Michael Bloomberg, could take away enough votes from a Democrat to let Trump win, The Daily Beast reported. "That’s Donald Trump’s reelection strategy," he said.

Comey has been vocal on his feelings about the president’s truthfulness and has previously said that Trump is known for "lying about all things" and compared the president to a "mob boss" that has a need for "complete control" — a comparison he repeated in Sunday’s interview. 

Read More: Comey says anyone who thinks the FBI favored Hillary Clinton in its emails investigation is ‘smoking something’

Comey said that he wanted Trump out of office, but not impeached. He said that removing Trump in a landslide vote would "rid ourselves of this attack on our values," but that removal by impeachment would "muddy that."

Removing Trump by impeachment, he said, could leave many across the US with the feeling that their leader was removed in a "coup." 

But he also ruled out the possibility that he might run for election himself. "I’m never gonna run," he said.

Donald Trump James ComeyAndrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Russia probe

Comey, who Trump fired as FBI Director in 2017, also discussed recent key developments in the bureau’s probe into the Trump presidential campaign’s ties with Russia, such as the new sentencing memos for former Trump allies Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.

Federal prosecutors on Friday recommended "substantial prison time" and a $100,000 fine for longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to financial crimes, campaign violations, and lying to Congress.

They also accused Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign, told prosecutors "discernible lies" about his contacts with the White House, breaching his cooperation agreement.

When asked if Trump could be an unindicted co-conspirator in some of the crimes described by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Comey said he did not know, but said of Mueller: "If he’s not there, he’s certainly close."

Read More: Incoming top Democrats predict impeachment and jail time for Trump with increasing confidence

James ComeyWin McNamee/Getty

Comey also responded to Trump lashing out at him on Twitter earlier on Sunday, in which he accused Comey of lying to Congress in testimony he delivered on Friday about his role in investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.

Trump, who repeatedly referred to Comey as "Lyin’ James Comey," said that key points of Comey’s testimony were "all lies" and called him "Leakin’ Comey."

Comey said in response: "My reaction to it is actually disturbing to me, which is kind of: ‘Eh, there he goes again.’ I thought I was ‘Lyin’ James Comey.’ Now I’m ‘Leakin’ James Comey.’"

"But I kind of shrug and sometimes smile and laugh about it and then I have a secondary reaction, which is to be horrified at my own numb reaction," he added.

"We have to remind ourselves the President of the United States of America is publicly announcing that people are committing crimes, that they should be in jail."

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100 BlackRock investing pros got together to formulate a game plan for 2019 — and we got an exclusive look at their 3 big themes for the year

blackrock building exterior signReuters / Eric Thayer

  • BlackRock assembled roughly 100 investment professionals at its 2019 outlook forum in order to establish a firmwide view for markets.
  • Business Insider got an exclusive first look at BlackRock’s outlook, which consists of three major themes the firm sees dictating market action in 2019.

2018 started out innocently enough, with the positive effect of President Donald Trump’s tax law lifting stocks to record highs.

But the path since then has been anything but smooth as volatility and macro uncertainty have taken hold of global markets, roiling a wide range of asset classes. In fact, conditions have gotten so bad that bond equities and bonds could end the year with negative returns.

With much of the market turbulence transpiring in the fourth quarter, the environment heading into 2019 will be a tricky one to navigate. Luckily for investors seeking guidance, BlackRock is on the case. The firm assembled roughly 100 investment professionals at its 2019 outlook forum in order to establish a firmwide view for markets.

At the center of BlackRock’s overall approach to handling markets next year is a familiar driver: economic growth. The firm says the performance of assets of all types will largely hinge on whether the economy continues to expand at its current pace.

Beyond that, BlackRock identified three major themes that form the foundation for all of its forecasts, and Business Insider was able to get an exclusive first look at them. Note that the firm’s specific outlooks for stocks and bonds overlap with these themes, which are as follows:

1) A growth slowdown

BlackRock’s view as it pertains to growth is split two-fold. The first deals with global economic growth, specifically expansion in gross domestic product. The firm says it expects a slowdown.

However, the severity will vary by region. BlackRock says the US will outperform its developed-market peers, while emerging-market bellwether China will stabilize.

"We see US growth stabilizing at a much higher level than other regions, even as the fading effects of domestic fiscal stimulus weigh on year-on-year growth comparisons," a group led by Richard Turnill, BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, wrote in a client note. "This underscores our preference for US assets within the developed world."

Screen Shot 2018 12 07 at 4.36.34 PMBlackRock Investment Institute

BlackRock is also expecting a growth slowdown in corporate earnings. It’s an inevitable comedown, considering profit expansion has been so robust in recent quarters. But it still represents an unfortunate headwind for equities, for which earnings growth is the foremost driver of gains.

With that said, BlackRock once again expects the US to be the best positioned, relative to other geographies. The firm also favors EM companies.

2) A neutral stance from the Federal Reserve

A neutral stance from the Fed essentially refers to one major driver: monetary tightening. As the central bank edges closer to rate levels that neither encourage nor restrict growth, it will have impact asset prices far and wide.

And BlackRock says tightening has already started to occur in earnest. The chart below reflects that. 

Screen Shot 2018 12 07 at 4.46.09 PMBlackRock Investment Institute

But strategists at BlackRock aren’t as pessimistic as many other experts when it comes to the ultimate impact of tightening. In fact, the firm says the Fed may become cautious with further rate hikes as it approaches neutral, which could actually provide some relief for beleaguered assets. 

3) Balancing risk and reward

A third crucial theme identified by BlackRock is constructing a portfolio that allows investors to participate in market upside while also protecting themselves from a potential meltdown.

The firm points to the stock market as a microcosm of this theme. While profit growth has remained strong throughout 2018, equities have struggled over long stretches because of other factors.

BlackRock attributes this to what it calls the "uncertainty effect," which describes stock returns unexplained by growth. As the chart below shows, this factor has grown over time.

Screen Shot 2018 12 07 at 4.58.23 PMBlackRock Investment Institute

As such, BlackRock recommends a so-called barbelled approach. What does that mean exactly? Allow Turnill & Co. to explain.

It involves "exposures to government debt as a portfolio buffer, twinned with high-conviction allocations to assets that offer attractive risk/return prospects," he and his colleagues wrote.

Beyond that, when it comes specifically to the equity market, BlackRock likes high-quality stocks. It says quality has "historically outperformed other equity style factors in economic slowdowns."

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A transgender man won his historic boxing debut, then called out the ‘naysayers’ who were booing him

Patricio Manuel, transgender boxer wins historic fightTwitter / Golden Boy Boxing

  • Patricio Manuel became the first transgender male to compete as a professional boxer in the United States on Saturday.
  • Manuel fought Hugo Aguilar over four rounds in Indio, California but his landmark victory was marred as fans loudly booed him from ringside.
  • The 33-year-old addressed his "naysayers" in a post-fight speech in the middle of the ring and promised them he will win them over in his next fight.

Patricio Manuel made boxing history on Saturday night when he became the first transgender man to fight professionally in the United States.

Manuel, a featherweight fighter, beat Hugo Aguilar by decision after four rounds in a Golden Boy Boxing promoted event at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, but his victory was bittersweet.

After his win, he got on the microphone and called out fans who were loudly booing him from ringside. "I hear some fans aren’t happy," he said in the ring, according to Golden Boy. "It’s okay, I’ll be back… I’ll make you happy then.

"I’ve got some naysayers out there that I need to prove that I deserve to be here. I’m not in here just for one show in one fight. This is something I love. I’m not done with this sport and I will be back."

Of Aguilar, who has yet to win in six bouts, Manuel said: "My opponent… hats off to him. He came here to fight, he fought me like a man, and I have so much respect for him."

Listen to the crowd, as well as Manuel’s response, in the clip below:

Manuel formerly competed as a woman in the 2012 Olympic Trials but a shoulder injury forced him to withdraw, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun.

He later began hormone treatment to medically transition into a man in 2014, and had surgery in 2015.

He wanted to continue his career in boxing, albeit in the men’s category rather than the women’s.

"Everyone who has been along for this journey over the past six years, really. Thank you so much, I couldn’t be here without you," Manuel said in the ring. "I really needed that support to help push me to this point.

"There’s a lot of people behind my corner, my coaches, my beautiful partner, my family and friends and fans. There are so many people who wanted me to be here and I’m so glad I was able to perform for them."

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Amazon is planning to open one of its first international cashierless Amazon Go stores in London’s Oxford Circus

Amazon GoAP/Elaine Thompson

  • Amazon is looking to open a cashierless Amazon Go store in London, The Sunday Telegraph reports.
  • Sources say the company is looking for a site between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet in size in Oxford Circus.
  • Amazon told the Telegraph it does not comment on rumour or speculation.

Amazon is planning to open one of its cashierless Amazon Go stores in London’s Oxford Circus, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

Citing sources, the newspaper said Amazon is looking for a space between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet in size. Oxford Circus is the busiest shopping area in London.

Amazon first introduced its Amazon Go stores, where customers can take items off the shelves and be automatically charged, in the US early this year.

Read more: Amazon is ramping up tests of cashierless stores, a move that could see the futuristic tech launched in Whole Foods

The company is yet to expand the brick-and-mortar stores internationally.

Sources told the Sunday Telegraph that Oxford Circus site would be the company’s flagship UK store. Sources also said the project to establish an Amazon Go store in the UK was being led by the US side of Amazon’s operations.

Business Insider contacted Amazon for comment. An Amazon spokesman told the Telegraph that the company does not comment on rumour or speculation.

Do you work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at ihamilton@businessinsider.com. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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Incoming top Democrats predict impeachment and jail time for Trump with increasing confidence

Donald Trump g20Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

  • President Donald Trump could be jailed or impeached based on new legal evidence, top Democrats have said.
  • They were responding to claims that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen facilitated two illegal hush payments to two women during the 2016 election.
  • Federal prosecutors on Friday accused Cohen of facilitating the payments "in coordination and at the direction of Individual-1," who is believed to be Trump.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, said Trump could "face the real prospect of jail time" as soon as he leaves office.
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described them as "impeachable offenses."

The incoming chairs of two powerful House committees have predicted a "real prospect of jail time" for President Donald Trump, and said that new accusations about Michael Cohen’s illegal hush payments are "impeachable offenses."

Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told the CBS show "Face the Nation" on Sunday: "There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.

"We have been discussing the issue of pardons that the president may offer to people or dangle in front of people. The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump."

Schiff was responding to the latest sentencing document from federal prosecutors on Friday, which said that longtime Trump lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1."

Individual-1 is widely believed to be Trump. The coordination relates to payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump.

"With respect to both payments, Cohen acted with the intent to influence the 2016 presidential election," the memo said.

"In particular, and as Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1," it added. "As a result of Cohen’s actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election."

Read more: Federal prosecutors say Cohen committed crimes ‘in coordination with and at the direction of’ Trump

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also told CNN that, if it is proved that Trump directed the payments, that would amount to "impeachable offenses."

Michael CohenAP Photo/Julie Jacobson

He told CNN’s Jake Tapper: "They would be impeachable offenses, whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question.

"But certainly they’d be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office, that would be an impeachable offense."

Jerrold NadlerGetty / Andrew Burton

Nadler added, however, that Congress may not immediately impeach Trump because that would be "an attempt to, in effect, overturn the result of the last election and [Congress] should do it only for very serious situations."

He said: "You don’t necessarily launch an impeachment against the President because he committed an impeachable offense. There are several things you have to look at."

"One, were impeachable offenses committed, how many, et cetera. Secondly, how important were they? Do they rise to the gravity where you should undertake an impeachment?" he added.

"An impeachment is an attempt to effect or overturn the result of the last election and should do it only for very serious situations. That’s the question."

The new Congress will convene on January 3, 2019.

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So much for a ‘Santa rally’: Trump’s trade war is sending S&P 500 towards its worst December since 2002

trader christmas santa hat stocksHENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty

  • Stocks in Asia, Europe and futures in the US continued their decline after Friday’s sell off in the US. Donald Trump’s trade war is worrying investors. 
  • China ratcheted up trade tensions over the weekend since the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou last week. Weak Chinese trade and inflation data and a slump in Japan’s economy have also hurt sentiment.
  • In Europe, Germany’s DAX slumped on weak export data, while UK government disarray added to uncertainty. 

Hopes for a Santa rally are fading fast with fears over US President Donald Trump’s trade war with China helping to send the S&P 500 towards its worst December in 16 years.

Asian markets kicked off what looks to be a bearish day for global stocks on growing concerns over global economic growth and the US-China trade war. European stocks and US futures also fell.

Tensions over US-China trade were heightened even further as China summoned the Canadian and US ambassadors over the weekend regarding the arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada last week. China described the arrest of Meng Wanzhou as "lawless" and "extremely vicious."

"Global stocks are set up for a rough ride this week after something of a drubbing last week," said Neil Wilson, Chief Market Analyst for Markets.com. Markets tend to rise in a "Santa rally" in December. The S&P 500 has declined in December only four times since 2002.

US equity futures are trading lower on Monday — the Nasdaq is down 0.4% while the Dow and S&P 500 are falling 0.3%. The S&P 500 has fallen more than 4.6% for the month. If it closed at that level come New Year’s eve, it would be the worst since 2002, when the index slumped 6%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite closed down 0.8% as investors fret about a continued war of words. Weak Chinese inflation figures and continued concerns about trade weighed on equities. Chinese goods exports growth slowed from 15.6% year-on-year in October to 5.4% for November. 

The Nikkei slumped 2.4% after data showed Japan’s economy just went sharply into reverse. 

European markets also slumped, with Germany’s DAX Index down 1.2% as uncertainty looms about the German economy. Weak export data and a poor year for the country’s powerhouse automotive industry aren’t helping the German cause. UK Prime Minster Theresa May is under pressure and facing a massive defeat on a crucial Brexit vote which could endanger her job.

The benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 dropped 0.6% as of 9.56 a.m in London (4.56 a.m EST). 

Investors in the US are also still jittery about the Treasury "yield curve," a wonky market event that can signal a recession. The outlook between the 2-year and 10-year government bonds stayed flat, but investors are concerned the curve will invert, which would add weight to any forecasts for a slump in growth. 

"Bond markets have been more accurate than stock markets in predicting economic slowdowns," said Hussein Sayed Chief Market Strategist at FXTM. "It looks like a matter of time before the long end of the curve inverts too. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate a recession is imminent, it’s a bold warning signal."

Elsewhere in markets, Friday’s agreement between OPEC and Russia sent oil prices initially higher with Brent crude trading up 0.6% before dropping 1.5% as of 10.40 a.m in London (5.40 a.m EST). 

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Theresa May under pressure to delay Brexit vote as leadership rivals circle

Theresa MayAmilcar Orfali/Getty Images

  • Theresa May to make crunch decision on whether to delay the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal.
  • The prime minister’s closest allies don’t know if the House of Commons vote will go ahead on Tuesday as planned, according to multiple reports.
  • May could go back to Brussels and ask the EU to make concessions on the most controversial aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, like the backstop for avoiding a hard Irish border.
  • However, EU sources say there is no appetite for renegotiation.
  • Senior Conservatives like Home Secretary Sajid Javid are preparing for a leadership contest to replace May.

 

LONDON — Theresa May is set to make a crucial decision on whether to delay the House of Commons vote on her Brexit deal as the prime minister faces a massive defeat which could endanger her job.

Downing Street will decide on Monday whether to go ahead with the so-called "meaningful vote" on Tuesday evening, according to multiple reports, with over 100 Conservative MPs and almost all Labour MPs expected to vote against the deal.

There is widespread confusion among the prime minister’s allies and foes about whether the vote will go ahead on Tuesday as planned, with senior government figures rating the chances 50/50.

The prime minister has up to now been adamant that the vote on her controversial deal will go ahead as planned despite a growing number of MPs publicly announcing their intention to vote against it.

However, as things stand, over 100 of May’s own Tory MPs are set to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement while Labour is confident that all of its own MPs will do the same. The Democratic Unioniost Party which props up the Conservative government, is also planning to vote down the deal.

The prime minister is considering going back to Brussels and asking for changes to the deal which could win around MPs back in Westminster. May had phone calls with European Commission President Donald Tusk and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Sunday evening ahead of a defining week for both Brexit and her leadership.

However, there is little propspect that the EU will make the sort of concessions May needs to satisfy MPs before the vote.

"I can’t see much appetite here unless her [May’s] red lines are changed. No deal planning will be stepped up," a senior source in Brussels told Business Insider on Monday morning.

A number of pro-Brexit MPs have said they will not support the deal unless the backstop for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland is changed to give the UK the right to leave the arrangement unilaterally.

The EU has said that it will not make major concessions on the backstop, meaning a slight a change of wording to the Political Declaration on the future UK-EU relationship might be the best May can realistically hope for.

Heavyweight Conservatives prepare for leadership contest

Sajid JavidJack Taylor/Getty ImagesMeanwhile, senior Conservatives are stepping up preparations for a Tory leadership contest amid the widespread belief that the prime minister could be gone within weeks or even days.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has reportedly been asking Tory MPs to support his leadership bid. "Sajid is tapping us up. He is very direct," one Cabinet minister told The Sun. Another senior Conservative MP added: "[Javid] told me that Theresa’s Brexit deal is s***, she’ll be forced out when it falls, and he is then going to declare immediately."

Javid is set to host a drinks reception in Westminster this month with House of Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom. A friend of Leadsom told BI that a Javid-Leadsom leadership team would be a "dream ticket" for Conservative MPs, as Javid’s pro-Brexit credentials would be boosted by having a lead Leave campaigner on his team.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, his predecessor Boris Johnson, and ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab are also all considering leadership bids, according to multiple reports over recent days.

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