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Jan 2, 2019

What's News: Shutdown Test for Congress; Battered Bull Market Limps Into New Year; The Credit Card Reward Game.

The Wall Street Journal.
Newspaper.
What’s News
Sun icon. Good Morning
Here’s what we’re watching as the U.S. business day gets under way:
Trump is ramping up pressure over border wall funding. The president invited top congressional lawmakers to the White House for a bipartisan meeting later today—but it wasn't immediately clear whether Democratic leaders would take part.
  • Government workers' worries, bills pile up. Some federal employees are bracing for the worst, deferring payments, filing unemployment claims and notifying landlords they may not make rent.
     
  • Shutdown shapes up as day-one test for Congress. When the new Congress convenes Thursday, its ability to govern will immediately be put to the test as a partial government shutdown enters its 13th day. 
The battered bull market limps into 2019. Global markets logged a weak start to the new year after December's painful rout. U.S. stocks are also stumbling following a blistering fourth-quarter retreat by investors that shows little sign of slowing and threatens to upend the nearly 10-year bull market. 
Mitt Romney blasts "deep descent" of Trump presidency. The incoming Utah senator and former 2012 presidential candidate, wrote that the president “has not risen to the mantle of office,” in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post.
The new year brings higher drug prices. Pharmaceutical companies are raising prices on hundreds of drugs, with Allergan setting the pace by introducing increases of nearly 10% on more than two dozen products.
Kim Jong Un extends a peace overture to the U.S. The North Korean leader appeared to maintain last year’s mood of diplomacy with Washington in his New Year’s address, saying his country is refraining from producing nuclear weapons, a gesture some experts interpreted as an opening for resuming talks with President Trump.
New laws coming this year. The new year is bringing in a flurry of new laws and ordinances across the U.S.—from crackdowns on plastic straws and foam containers to new measures spurred by last year’s school shooting massacre in Parkland, Fla., and the #MeToo scandals

What's Trending

TAYLOR CALLERY
The Dry January effect. Now that the British fad is taking hold in the U.S., research shows that dropping booze for 31 days has several health benefits—sometimes months later, writes the Journal's Sumathi Reddy.
Individual investors try not to panic over market gyrations. For professional investors, times of heightened volatility can sometimes be a godsend. But retail investors are more likely to buy and hold stocks and funds, shunning strategies that profit from increased volatility. They often pull money from the stock market during periods of significant stress.
"It’s a game really—like poker." Rewards credit cards offering perks like airfare and cash back were meant to lead to higher returns. But consumers figured out how to game the system.
American detained in Russia isn't a spy, family says. David Whelan, the twin brother of Paul Whelan, said his brother was a former Marine and former law-enforcement officer and that the family learned of his detention in Russia this week from media reports. "He would not have knowingly broken any law, let alone one involving espionage."
Military service dispute resounds with ultra-Orthodox Jews. A clash over mandatory military service in Israel, which helped to precipitate the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, echoes deeply in the community of ultra-Orthodox Jews at the issue’s core. 
A fracking pioneer bet on oil. Then prices plunged. Chesapeake Energy’s challenges exemplify how oil’s price drop is jeopardizing the recoveries of shale drillers still trying to regain their strength after the last crash in prices in 2014 and 2015.
When a family loses everything. In September 2018, Hurricane Florence caused record flooding in North Carolina. The Hudsons were among the thousands of families displaced by the storm. This documentary follows their rescue and their journey back home.

Chart of the Day

"Stop robocalling me!"; "I didn’t!" Americans’ growing battle against illegal robocallers has reached boiling point, with victims of one form of phone-related malfeasance now lashing out at those impacted by a different form of it.

News From Other Sources

Europe considers tougher scrutiny of China cyber security risks. EU diplomats say that alarm raised by countries such as the U.S. over growing Chinese business involvement in crucial technological infrastructure fits with rising European fears.

via Financial Times
Netflix pulls comedy show criticizing Saudi Arabia. The streaming service has taken down an episode of a satirical comedy show in the country after officials from the kingdom complained, sparking criticism that the streaming service isn't supporting artistic freedom.

via the Guardian.
Two women enter Indian temple after centuries-long ban. India’s Supreme Court ruled last September that all women had the right to worship at a temple in Kerala, but the verdict set off intense protests by religious conservatives and Hindu nationalists, preventing any women entering until today.

via the Washington Post

This Day in History

Jan. 2, 1974
Nixon Signs Bill Limiting Speed to 55 MPH
In an attempt to conserve gasoline supply during the 1973 oil embargo by Arab-producing nations, President Richard Nixon signed a bill requiring all states to lower their maximum speed limits to 55 mph. The bill also prohibited the Department of Transportation from approving or funding any projects within states that didn't comply. The National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 would repeal federal speed limits, allowing states to set their own for the first time in more than 20 years.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
—Compiled and edited by Phil Nobile in New York and Bryony Watson in London.