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Dec 31, 2018

What's New: U.S. Presses China on Trade Proposals; Trump Mulls Slower Syria Pullout; Hide the Countdown Clocks.

The Wall Street Journal.
What’s News
Sun icon. Good Morning
Here’s what we’re watching as the U.S. business day gets under way:
U.S. presses China on trade proposals. With 90-day trade talks due to wrap up on March 1, the U.S. is pushing Beijing to fill in the details of a slew of trade and investment proposals Chinese officials have made recently, as the two sides try to resolve a trade battle that has rocked markets. Global stocks rose, capping a volatile year, amid the signs of progress.
Trump re-evaluates quick Syria pullout. After a White House meeting Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said the speed of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria was under review. But the goal, he said, remains "to be able to leave Syria, to make sure ISIS never comes back.”
Ghosn's detention is extended. Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn can be held in jail without the possibility of bail until Jan. 11, a Tokyo court said, lengthening a detention that has gone on for a month and a half.
IPO-hungry investors look for their moment. Despite a whipsawing stock market, a host of big-name tech companies like Uber, Lyft, Pinterest and Slack are preparing for stock-market debuts as soon as the first half of 2019.
Democrats weigh options as government shutdown heads into the new year. With little push from either party to budge on border-wall funding, the partial government shutdown is entering its second week as Democrats consider their next steps when they take over the House in days.
A new tool to battle the opioid epidemic. A strip that works like a pregnancy test and can detect fentanyl—the potent substance behind the escalating number of deaths roiling communities around the country—is growing in usage across 

What's Trending

Amazon reinvents itself to win in rural India. Amazon is targeting hundreds of millions of new online shoppers outside of India's big cities by simplifying its order screen with Hindi and videos, opening stores to help people shop and adding a fleet of deliverymen who can take payments.
Huawei's rivals are struggling to capitalize on U.S. scrutiny. U.S. efforts to curb Huawei should have been good news for telecom-equipment makers Nokia and Ericsson—but things haven’t turned out to be so simple as the two have been slow to release equipment as advanced as Huawei’s.
Mulvaney's motto as Trump's chief of staff: "quiet competence." As the president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney plans a different approach from his predecessor, John Kelly. The fiscal hawk, who nonetheless presided over a swelling budget deficit, says he will bring a different approach to the administration. 
An iPhone facelift, 5G in your hometown and human-free retail. From delivery wagons and foldable phones to privacy crackdowns and corporate health tracking, the coming year will make good on some of the tech industry’s biggest promises. Here's what to expect.
On both sides of the English Channel, officials brace for a Brexit "no deal." Free trade between the U.K. and European Union will end and customs checks will kick in for the first time in 45 years if no Brexit deal is in place. Authorities warn that could cause huge delays that could create one of the world’s biggest traffic jams. 
Mutual funds are trying a new role: activist investor. In the mutual-fund industry’s heyday, proxy fights and other activist tactics were considered unseemly, and often pointless. If a manager disapproved of managements’ actions, he or she would just sell the stock. Today, they are taking on executives more frequently.
Hide the countdown clocks. The Journal's Jason Gay says it's time to ring in the new year early and go to bed. Play an old video of fireworks, celebrate in pajamas and you can greet 2019 with a good night’s sleep. 

Chart of the Day

The best investments of 2018? The finer things in life. Luxury assets, including wine, art, classic cars and fancy colored diamonds, have outperformed stocks and bonds this year. Those investing in wine have seen a 10.2% gain this year, according to the Liv-ex 1000 index, a broad measure that covers wines across regions.

News From Other Sources

Kelly wants to be judged by what Trump didn't do. John F. Kelly, who will leave the Trump administration on Wednesday, defended his rocky tenure as White House chief of staff, arguing that it is best measured by what the president didn't do when he was at his side.
via Los Angeles Times
U.S. banks won't cover London to EU commuting costs after Brexit.  Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Bank of America warned staff that commuting from London to European cities is “not a long-term option” after Brexit and that financial support for travel and accommodation costs will be withdrawn within months of their jobs being transferred.
via Financial Times
Netanyahu says Brazil plans to move embassy to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro told him that it was a matter of “when, not if” he moves his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
via Reuters

This Day in History

Dec. 31, 1999
Putin Becomes Russian President After Yeltsin Resigns
After the abrupt resignation of President Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin became the acting president of Russia.
Mr. Putin, who was appointed prime minister earlier in the year, was Yeltsin's preferred successor. 
A former KGB officer, Mr. Putin won presidential elections in March 2000 with 53% of the vote. He remained as president until 2008 when a constitutional provision meant he had to step down. Mr. Putin then appointed Dmitry Medvedev as his successor and became prime minister once again.
In 2012, Mr. Putin ran for and captured the presidency and in March 2018 he won a fresh six-year term in office with more than three-quarters of the votes. 
—Compiled and edited by Phil Nobile in New York and Joanna Sugden in London

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