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Dec 31, 2018

EU FX I Currencies: Yen jumps as investors stay cautious amid volatile stock moves

Spriha Srivastava



The Japanese yen jumped on Friday as investors sought protection against volatile stock moves, while the greenback dipped as stocks traded higher after a dramatic week capped by large price swings.
The benchmark S&P 500 tested its 20-month low early in the week and was at the brink of bear market territory before the three main indexes roared back with their biggest daily surge in nearly a decade on Wednesday and a late rally on Thursday.
The yen gained despite higher stocks, soft domestic data and a decline in benchmark Japanese bond yields, which fell back into negative territory for the first time in more than a year.
That suggests that there’s still demand for some insurance against extended volatility over the holiday period that’s keeping the yen better supported, said Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.
The Japanese currency was last up 0.62 percent against the greenback at 110.30 yen at 3:00 p.m. ET. Another safe-haven currency, the Swiss franc, also jumped 0.73 percent to 0.9803.
“Markets are a bit more cautious on risk appetite, with the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc gaining,” said Lee Hardman, an FX strategist at MUFG in London.
The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.11 percent to 96.37.
The U.S. currency has been hurt in recent weeks by rising expectations that the Federal Reserve will pause its tightening cycle sooner than expected, or risk harming the U.S. economy with further interest rate increases.
A partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government, trade tensions between the United States and China and complications relating to Britains exit from the European Union are also keeping investors cautious.
“There’s still a lot of potential risk and uncertainty out there,” said Osborne.
Both chambers of the U.S. Congress convened for only a few minutes late on Thursday, but took no steps to end the partial federal government shutdown before adjourning until next week.

Bonds Yields at Close Report: Treasury yields hold steady as investors conclude wild year.

Fred Imbert,Spriha Srivastava


Treasury yields were little changed on Monday as investors concluded a wild 2018.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year note traded around 2.73 percent, while the 2-year yield held at 2.528 percent.  Bond yields move inversely to prices.
Treasury yields had a volatile year as investors around the world struggled with tighter monetary policy, fears of an economic slowdown and an ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

The 10-year yield traded as high as 3.26 percent in 2018, its highest level since 2011, as the Fed raised rates this year and started paring down its massive balance sheet. Overall, the Fed hiked rates four times in 2018.
But Treasury yields fell off those levels as investors began to fear that the global economy was slowing down. Earlier this month, IHS Markit said its U.S. composite output index fell to a 19-month low for December. They also said services and manufacturing PMIs dropped to their lowest levels in about a year. PMIs are used by investors as leading economic indicators, so a decline in those numbers is sometimes interpreted as a warning sign of slowing economic activity.
Yields were also volatile as trade tensions between China and the U.S. remain high. The two countries have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods. The tariffs come Trump administration is seeking what it thinks are better trade conditions with China.
Both countries agreed earlier this month to a 90-day ceasefire to try and work out a permanent agreement. On Saturday, President Donald Trump said he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade. He also claimed that “big progress” was being made on this front. His statements have brought optimism to stocks worldwide that have been under pressure this year.
Following the tweet, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump “may be overstating how close the two sides are to an agreement,” citing sources “familiar with the state of negotiations.”
These fears have kept a lid on yields all year. Still, the 10-year note yield is well above where it started out 2018. The benchmark rate traded around 2.4 percent to start off 2018.

Source: CNBC

Asia, Europe and US Markets at Close Report

                                                                            ASIA

Hong Kong and Australia close out 2018 with annual declines

Eustance Huang

Stocks in Asia were mixed on the final day of 2018, as most major markets around the globe were set to record calendar year declines.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.34 percent to finish the trading year at 25,845.70. The day’s gains, however, were unable to offset the index’s performance for 2018 — with it declining about 13.61 percent as compared to its final close of 2017. Hong Kong’s markets closed at 12:00 p.m. HK/SIN today for New Year’s Eve.
The ASX 200 in Australia, meanwhile, slipped 0.14 percent to close out 2018 at 5,646.40. The benchmark Australian index ended 2018 lower by 6.9 percent as compared to its final close of 2017. Australia’s markets closed at 11:10 a.m. HK/SIN today for New Year’s Eve.
On Monday, the materials subindex Down Under gained 0.4 percent, as shares of major miners advanced. Rio Tinto rose 0.50 percent, Fortescue advanced 1.21 percent and BHP Billiton climbed up by 0.82 percent.
Markets in Japan, South Korea and mainland China were closed.



Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart


TICKERCOMPANYNAMEPRICECHANGE%CHANGE
NIKKEINikkei 225 IndexNIKKEI20014.77-62.85-0.31
HSIHang Seng IndexHSI25845.70341.501.34
ASX 200S&P/ASX 200ASX 2005646.40-7.90-0.14
SHANGHAIShanghaiSHANGHAI2493.9010.810.44
KOSPIKOSPI IndexKOSPI2041.0412.600.62
CNBC 100CNBC 100 ASIA IDXCNBC 1007312.8241.140.57
China manufacturing activity decelerates
China’s manufacturing activity in December contracted even more than expected, according to government data: The country’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 49.4 — lower than the 49.9 analysts expected in a Reuters poll.
That was worse than November’s official manufacturing PMI, which was 50.0. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that signals contraction.
Official non-manufacturing PMI came in at 53.8 — higher than the reading of 53.4 in November. Economic data from China is being closely watched amid the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.
In trade war news, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday and said that a “long and very good call ” had taken place between himself and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In the post, Trump also said: “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute. Big progress being made!”
Following the tweet, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump “may be overstating how close the two sides are to an agreement, ” citing sources “familiar with the state of negotiations.”
Trump’s comments came after both he and Xi earlier this month agreed to a 90-day pause in tariff escalation.
Currencies
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.452 after seeing highs above the 97 handle last week.
The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 110.41 after touching lows above 111.3 in the previous trading week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7061 after seeing highs above $0.707 last week.
— Reuters and CNBC’s Huileng Tan contributed to this report.

                                           
                                                                          Europe


European stocks end 2018 with deep losses; worst year in a decade amid geopolitical uncertainties

Spriha Srivastava


European stocks closed higher on the final day of 2018 but marked the year as its worst in a decade.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX


TICKERCOMPANYNAMEPRICECHANGE%CHANGEVOLUME
FTSEFTSE 100FTSE6728.13-5.84-0.09232272148
DAXDAXDAX10558.960.000.000
CACCACCAC4730.6951.951.1123968957
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.38 percent higher. The FTSE 100 closed trading on the final day of the year, down 0.2 percent. The French CAC, meanwhile, closed more than 1 percent higher.
The German DAX is closed on Monday.
U.K.’s FTSE index is down more than 12 percent since the start of the year and has suffered its biggest one-year fall since the financial crisis in 2008 as investors digest uncertainty surrounding the country’s exit from the European Union.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 has ended the year down 13 percent - its worst since the financial crisis. The DAX, has followed a similar trajectory, down more than 18 percent since the start of the year.
Market focus is largely attuned to the progress on the U.S.-China trade standoff after hints emerged when President Donald Trump said he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade. He also claimed that “big progress” was being made on this front. His statements have brought optimism to stocks worldwide that have been under pressure this year.
Following the tweet, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump “may be overstating how close the two sides are to an agreement,” citing sources “familiar with the state of negotiations.”
Trump’s comments came after both he and Xi earlier this month agreed to a 90-day pause in tariff escalation.
However, market sentiment remained on edge after survey data out of China on Monday suggested that China’s manufacturing activity in December contracted even more than expected.
Back in Europe, the deadlock around Brexit continues to concern investors. On Sunday, U.K. Trade Minister Liam Fox said there is a “50-50” chance that Brexit may be stopped if Parliament rejects the government’s divorce deal with the European Union next month.
The U.K. Parliament is set to vote on the Brexit deal in the week starting January 14.

                                                                           US

US stocks post worst year in a decade as the S&P 500 falls more than 6% in 2018

Fred Imbert

Wall Street concluded a tumultuous 2018 on Monday as the major stock indexes posted their worst yearly performances since the financial crisis.
After solid gains on Monday, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 6.2 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, for 2018. Both indexes logged in their biggest annual losses since 2008, when they plunged 38.5 percent and 33.8 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq lost 3.9 percent in 2018, its worst year in a decade, when it dropped 40 percent.
The S&P 500 and Dow fell for the first time in three years, while the Nasdaq snapped a six-year winning streak. 2018 was a year fraught with volatility, characterized by record highs and sharp reversals. This year also marks the first time ever the S&P 500 posts a decline after rising in the first three quarters.

For the quarter, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq plunged 13.97 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively, their worst quarterly performances since the fourth quarter of 2008. The Dow notched its worst period since the first quarter of 2009.
A sizable chunk of this quarter's losses came during a violent December. The indexes all dropped at least 8.7 percent for the month. The Dow and S&P 500 also recorded their worst December performance since 1931 and their biggest monthly loss since February 2009.
Investors dumped stocks this month amid concerns of an economic slowdown and fears the Federal Reserve might be making a monetary policy mistake. Concern over ongoing trade negotiations between China and the U.S. have also pressured stocks this month.

But that doesn't explain just how wild a ride December was for investors. At its low price on Christmas Eve, the S&P 500 was down more than 20 percent from its record high on an intraday basis, briefly meeting the requirement for a bear market. The stock market would come soaring back in the next session, with the Dow jumping more than 1,000 points on Dec. 26, its biggest ever point gain.
Traders had trouble pinpointing the cause of the extreme volatility, with some chalking it up to computers.
The major averages trimmed some of their sharp annual losses on Monday on hopes of trade progress between China and the U.S. The Dow climbed 265 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both gained 0.8 percent.
John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer Asset Management, said these declines are "setting the stage for upward surprises in 2019."
"With what we believe to be almost all but the kitchen sink priced into current valuations, we see opportunity for multiples to return to levels seen at the end of the third quarter … with multiple expansions resulting in a global equity rebound in the coming year," Stoltzfus wrote in a note.
"That said, we do not expect a rally of great significance to emerge until sometime into the first quarter of 2019. We look for market risk to weigh on investor sentiment into the new year until catalysts for a rally of some material significance appear on the scene," he added.
Merck shares rose more than 1 percent, ending the year as the best-performing Dow component of 2018. Pfizer, the second best performer on the Dow this year, also climbed 1.6 percent on Monday.  Netflix jumped 4.5 percent while Amazon rose 1 percent after the popular FAANG trade (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet) took a beating recently.
President Donald Trump said this weekend he had a "very good call" with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss trade. The president also claimed that "big progress" was being made on this front. Trump's statements sparked gains in markets worldwide.
However, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump may be overstating how much progress was being made. The report cited people familiar with the situation. China and the U.S. agreed earlier this month to a 90-day grace period to try and work out their differences on trade.
"The threat of an escalating trade war has chilled US business confidence, with managers uncertain as to if/how they should restructure global supply chains," Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, wrote in a note to clients.
"The most bullish case here is that the tariff issue will be settled in Q1 2019, and a meaningful resolution should be enough to trigger a first half rally for stocks," Colas added. "Against that optimistic take are two bearish outcomes: one, that these negotiations take longer and two, that they fail outright."

Source: CNBC




Metals I CMI I Spot Prices as of the Close of Trading in New York.


Spot Prices as of close of trading in New York
 
Monday, December 31, 2018
 
 
 
GOLD
 
TODAY
 
$1,280.10
CHANGE
 
-$1.50
WEEK AGO
 
$1,272.10
MONTH AGO
 
$1,219.10
YEAR AGO
 
$1,307.95
SILVER
 
TODAY
 
$15.50
CHANGE
 
+$0.09
WEEK AGO
 
$14.82
MONTH AGO
 
$14.07
YEAR AGO
 
$17.17
PLATINUM
 
TODAY
 
$795.80
CHANGE
 
-$1.20
WEEK AGO
 
$791.40
MONTH AGO
 
$801.90
YEAR AGO
 
$936.30
PALLADIUM
 
TODAY
 
$1,270.35
CHANGE
 
+$5.35
WEEK AGO
 
$1,245.50
MONTH AGO
 
$1,172.00
YEAR AGO
 
$1,061.10
GOLD/SILVER RATIO
 
82.58


Source: CMI

Oil price at Close Report:Oil Prices set for first yearly drop since 2015 ( Correction)

Tom DiChristopher



Reusable Oil Texas
Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Oil prices gave up early gains on the final day of the year, despite a rising stock market, and were on track for their first annual decline in three years as concerns of a persistent supply glut lingered.
Hints of progress on a possible U.S.-China trade deal, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, helped bolster market sentiment.
Brent crude futures was up 13 cents at $53.34 a barrel around 12:22 p.m. ET, on pace for a 20 percent decline in 2018.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $45.29 a barrel, down 4 cents. WTI has fallen about 25 percent this year.
Both contracts are down more than a third this quarter, the steepest decline since the fourth quarter of 2014.
For most of 2018, oil prices were on the rise, driven up by healthy demand and supply concerns, especially around the impact of renewed U.S. sanctions against major producer Iran, which were introduced in early November.
Brent crude, seen as a global benchmark for oil prices, rose by almost a third between January and October, to a high of $86.74 per barrel.
That was the highest level since late 2014, the start of a deep market slump amid bulging global oversupply, and many leading analysts and traders at the time said they expected crude to hit $100 per barrel again by the end of 2018.
Instead, Brent prices have wiped out all of 2018′s gains, plunging by almost 40 percent from the year’s high, in what has been one of the steepest oil market sell-offs of the past decades.
The slump came after Washington gave unexpectedly generous sanction waivers to Iran’s biggest oil buyers and as concerns over a global economic slowdown amid the Sino-American trade dispute dented the outlook for oil demand.
“It was the bailout of Iran that really pricked the bubble that was the crude oil market,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.
“For the immediate future, in the absence of anything new, the first pressure point for oil markets would come around May 2019 or a month or so earlier when the ‘extensions of (Iran)waivers’ would be discussed.”
A Reuters poll showed a bearish 2019 outlook on Monday. A survey of 32 economists and analysts forecast an average Brent price of $69.13 a barrel next year, compared with $71.76 in 2018.
The current downward pressure on oil prices should likely taper off from January, analysts said, as OPEC and its allies including Russia start curbing production by 1.2 million barrels per day.
The market, however, might still remain under some pressure from swelling production in the United States, which has emerged as the world’s biggest crude producer this year, pumping 11.6 million bpd.
“The key swing producers within OPEC+ do have meaningful spare capacity and are able to use it if they deem it necessary. That said, it is nonetheless a difficult tool to use correctly in a world where forecasters tend to routinely underestimate U.S. production by several hundred thousand barrels per day,” JBC Energy consultancy said in a daily note.
Outside the United States, production in Russia and Saudi Arabia also hit record levels this year.
— CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

Gold Price at Close Report: Gold eases off 6-month peak; set to post first fall in three years

Nyshka Chandran


Gold edged lower from a more than six-month peak hit early on Monday and was poised for its first annual decline since 2015 after losing out this year to dollar strength linked to the U.S.-China trade conflict and rising interest rates.
Spot gold rose 0.06 percent to $1,281.47 an ounce at 11:44 a.m. EST, having hit its highest since June 15 earlier in the session. U.S. gold futures were up 0.08 percent at $1,284.00.
“The equity markets are off to a very good start and that is putting a little bit of pressure on gold market,” said Phil Streible, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.
“Gold has had an incredible run in the month of December, so we are seeing a small bit of profit-taking.”
Spot prices have gained about 5 percent so far this month, the most since January, but are still down 1.7 percent in the year to date.
“Gold started well in 2018, but a recovery in the U.S. dollar weakened prices and uncertainty on the U.S-China trade front weakened the yuan, further pulling gold down,” said ABN AMRO analyst Georgette Boele.
Some stabilisation in the yuan and weakness in the dollar has helped the recent recovery in gold, she said, which has put the metal on track for its best December in a decade. “We expect gold prices to hit $1,400 next year,” she added.
The dollar is set to close the year up nearly 5 percent against its rivals, lifted by trade tensions and rising interest rates.
Political and economic considerations will support prices into the first quarter of 2019, said Benjamin Lu Jiaxuan, commodities analyst at Singapore-based brokerage firm Phillip Futures.
The outlook for the dollar is also more subdued going into 2019, with growing expectations that a three-year rate-hiking cycle in the United States has come to a close. Markets currently expect no rate hikes next year.
Elsewhere, auto catalyst metal palladium was up 0.87 percent at $1,264.45 an ounce, taking its gain for the year to 18.5 percent and making it the best-performing of the major precious metals for the third year in a row.
This year it also surpassed gold for the first time since 2002 on strong demand from makers of catalytic converters.
“The key driver in this strength has been growing demand from the auto sector with stricter pollution standards in China increasing the amount of palladium used in auto catalysts,” ING said in its commodities outlook for next year.
Silver rose 0.72 percent to $15.45 an ounce in the session but was down 9.3 percent for 2018.
Platinum rose by .44 percent to $792.90, making little impact on a decline of about 14 percent for the year.

Source: CNBC

Sen. Elizabeth Warren launches 2020 presidential exploratory committee

cnbc.com

Tucker Higgins



GP: Elizabeth Warren speaking 
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced on Monday that she had formally launched an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid.
The former Harvard professor made the announcement in a video emailed to supporters. In the four-minute video, Warren trumpeted a message of economic fairness.
“Our government is supposed to work for all of us, but instead, it has become a tool for the wealthy and well-connected,” Warren said in the video.
Warren is among the first Democrats to announce a bid for her party’s nomination to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. The field is expected to grow in the coming weeks as other Democrats enter what will likely become a crowded and expensive primary contest.
The Massachusetts Democrat, a prominent voice in the party’s liberal wing, has vowed to go after major banks and protect consumers from predatory practices. She is credited with drafting, as an academic, the original plans for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Watch the full video:
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: AMZN, DB, VZ, GOOGL & more

Peter Schacknow




Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:

Amazon.com – Amazon is planning a significant expansion of its Whole Foods grocery stores, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper said Amazon is scouting new locations in more suburbs, and in areas where Whole Foods is already growing in popularity.
Deutsche Bank – Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner told a German newspaper that the bank is strong and that its turnaround strategy is working, adding that there is no need for either state aid or a merger.
Tribune Publishing Tribune was hit by a cyberattack over the weekend that caused printing and delivery disruptions for newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.
Verizon, Walt Disney – The two sides reached a distribution agreement ahead of a Monday deadline, meaning that Verizon FiOS customers will continue to receive Disney-owned channels like ESPN.
Apple, Alphabet – Apple and Alphabet’s Google unit could be threatened by a new app store from Fortnite creator Epic, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Epic app store reportedly gives developers 88 percent of revenues from their apps, compared to 70 percent from Apple and Google.
AlibabaThe China-based e-commerce giant will pay $75 million to settle a California class action lawsuit, according to an SEC filing. The suit had been brought in October 2015 on behalf of shareholders who had purchased Alibaba’s American Depositary shares.
Berkshire Hathaway – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is poised to outperform the S&P 500 for the third straight year. Berkshire has beaten the S&P in seven of the past ten years.
Pacific Gas & Electric – The utility could face charges if investigators find that various deadly wildfires over the past two years were caused by reckless operation of power equipment. California’s attorney general has told a federal judge that the charges could be as serious as murder.
Tencent Holdings – Tencent was excluded from the first approvals of video games by the Chinese government since March.
Aflac – The disability insurer is making a $20 million minority equity investment in Singapore-based life insurance company Singapore Life.
Canada Goose – The retailer of outdoor wear is seeing large crowds at its new Beijing store, its first in mainland China, which opened Friday.
Camping World – The camping equipment and recreational vehicle retailer said President Roger Nuttall resigned on December 21, effective immediately. Camping World made that disclosure in an SEC filing.

The 10 Point:

The 
Wall Street Journal.
The 
10-Point.

Today's guide to the WSJ
Good Morning. Happy New Year from all of us at The Wall Street Journal. The 10-Point newsletter will take a break on Jan. 1 and return on Wednesday.
In today’s edition, investors face the year’s last trading session, President Trump re-evaluates a rapid pullout from Syria, Amazon tries to reinvent itself in India, and more.
 
1.
Futures point to higher openings for both the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 on the year’s last day of trading. European stocks were up in early trading following an upbeat session in Asia. On Friday, U.S. stocks flip-flopped—the Dow changing directions 19 times—prolonging the puzzle of the swift-swinging market. If a brutal December and rough fourth quarter have any leading cause, it is a modest souring about the global economy’s prospects.
  • Among investors’ worries: the Fed’s rate-raising pace, the trade spat with China and the partial government shutdown.
  • As oil prices touch their lowest point in more than a year, some frackers are scaling back drilling plans, in an industry that just months ago was expecting a banner 2019.
     
  • A whipsawing stock market could mean a bumpy path for companies planning IPOs next year—some of the fastest-growing and most richly valued private companies ever—but it isn’t expected to derail them.
     
  • Mutual-fund managers, seeking to justify their fees, are trying a new role: activist investor.
Follow the story: Subscribe to our Markets and Real Time Economics newsletters, and visit WSJ.com today for updates.
Advertisement.

2.
President Trump is re-evaluating a rapid pullout of U.S. troops from Syria, Sen. Graham says
U.S. military vehicles in northern Syria on Sunday. PHOTO: DELIL SOULEIMAN/ AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/ GETTY IMAGES
“I think we’re slowing things down in a smart way,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said after a White House meeting, adding that he wants the administration to “make sure ISIS never comes back.” He said President Trump, who originally called for a 30-day timeline, remains committed to pursuing the withdrawal he announced earlier this month.
 
From reporter Ian Talley:
The possible change from the president’s abrupt announcement earlier this month comes in the wake of several high-ranking resignations linked to the decision and broad criticism the move could allow Islamic State to regain a foothold in the region and hand Iran a dangerous strategic advantage.
ian.talley@wsj.com
 
The partial government shutdown entered its second week, with little push in either party to budge on President Trump’s desired border-wall funding. Days before Democrats take over the House, White House officials said negotiations have broken down. 
In addition to a divided congress and the shutdown, other challenges for the administration in the new year include continuing court battles over the president’s immigration policies and the expected conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mick Mulvaney, taking over as acting chief of staff on Jan. 2, said he plans a different approach to the job than his predecessors.
3.
The U.S. is pressing China to fill in the details of trade and investment proposals Beijing has made as the two sides try to resolve a trade dispute that has rocked global markets. 
  • Since President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met Dec. 1, Beijing has pledged to cut tariffs, buy more U.S. goods and services, ease restrictions on foreign companies operating in China and further open sectors for foreign investment. But details have been scant.
     
  • On Saturday, Mr. Trump tweeted that he and Mr. Xi had just talked by phone. A team of U.S. trade officials is expected in Beijing the week of Jan. 7 for several days of talks.
From reporter Bob Davis:
The U.S. and China are getting into the nitty-gritty of negotiations to see if they can cut a deal before a March 1 deadline for increasing U.S. tariffs on China. The president tweeted about “big progress,” but others familiar with the talks say that assessment was aimed at bolstering markets. Tough negotiations lie ahead.
bob.davis@wsj.com
4.
Amazon is reinventing itself to win over rural shoppers in India, who last year accounted for more than $400 billion of retail sales. Pitching to hundreds of millions of new online shoppers in the countryside, the retailer has added Hindi and videos to its order screen, opened stores to make shopping easier and allowed local deliverymen take cash.
Back in the U.S., Amazon.com plans to build and expand Whole Foods stores across the country to put more customers within range of the company’s two-hour delivery service. 
5.
On both sides of the English Channel, authorities are stepping up contingency planning for what could become one of the worlds biggest traffic jams if there’s no deal for the U.K.’s smooth exit from the European Union.
  • Without a Brexit deal—plans for which are now stuck in Britain’s Parliament—free trade across the Channel will end on March 30, and customs and other checks will kick in for the first time in 45 years. The result, officials warn: huge, cascading delays.
     
  • Preparations now include plans to use an abandoned airfield to serve as a holding area for thousands of trucks. More than 3,000 British soldiers are on standby to help out, as are 200 extra traffic wardens. 
6.
The tech that will change your life in 2019: The coming year could begin to make good on some of the tech industry's biggest promises.
ILLUSTRATION: JASON SCHNEIDER
There aren’t many ways 2018 could have gone worse for the tech industry, from Facebook’s privacy blunders to proof that self-driving cars aren’t ready for the road. The coming year could begin to bring the cleanup and a return to the optimism that technology is really good for the world.
Heres the Journals annual roundup of tech that will affect us in the year ahead, from an iPhone software facelift to Harry Potter blowing up augmented reality.
7.
What Were Following
Tribune Cyberattack: Newspapers printed by Tribune Publishing were delivered on time across the U.S. Sunday, a day after a cyberattack hobbled distribution.
Saudi Fund Outflows: Saudi Arabia’s flagship government investment arm, handed a major role in transforming the country’s economy, has suffered several prominent defections by Western executives.
The Peoples Choices: Congo voted to pick a successor to President Joseph Kabila after 18 years, while Bangladeshi voters handed a third term to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an election that left almost no opposition in Parliament.
8.
Trending Stories at WSJ.com
An aerial view of Anak Krakatau during an eruption on Dec. 23. PHOTO: ANTARA FOTO/REUTERS
Indonesia’s volatile Anak Krakatau volcano partially collapsed earlier this month, leaving it smaller but more explosive. (Read)
China is poised to realize an ambitious mission to the far side of the moon, one of many planned milestones in its effort to challenge U.S. space supremacy. (Read)
9.
What Else Were Reading
Unwanted apartments are weighing on China’s economy and, by extension, dragging down growth around the world. (New York Times)
As the euro turns 20, a look back at who fared the best, and the worst, with the currency. (Bloomberg)
California’s effort to transform its illegal and medicinal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry remains a work in progress. (Associated Press)
Verizon and Disney reached a deal to keep the network’s channels on Fios, a day before a contract was to expire—good news for Fios users who are college football fans, as Disney’s ESPN is airing the New Year’s Day bowl games. (USA Today)
10.
Today’s Question and Answer
In response to our question about your thoughts on teachers