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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On both sides of the English Channel, authorities are stepping up contingency planning for what could become one of the world’s 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.
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.
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)
What Else We’re 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)
Today’s Question and Answer
In response to our question about your thoughts on teachers