A woman makes a snow angel in the middle of Times Square in New York, January 3, 2014.
Good morning! Here's what you need to know.
- A massive winter storm continues to churn through the East Coast, and will continue to linger until about 11 am. It's expected to drop up to a foot of snow on Boston and New York and send temperatures down to no higher than the teens. Schools in both cities have been canceled, as have most flights — JFK is closed until 8:30 a.m. Major roadways are likely to be shut as well. ED&F Man Capital managing director Tom di Galoma says trading could be affected.
- Four different Fed members, including Chairman Ben Bernanke (at 2:30 p.m.) will speak today at an American Economic Association conference in Philadelphia. Bernanke and other "dovish" members of the FOMC may wish to take an opportunity to push back on this during Tuesday's speaking events. "A consensus from doves — and more surprisingly, hawks — that they are nowhere near to tightening policy rates will take the wind out of the sails of this bearish sentiment," Citi's Steve Englander says.
- The major economic data out today is motor vehicle sales for December, which are expected to have declined slightly from November. "Historically, car sales line up nicely with employment, which makes a lot of sense as unemployed people don't buy cars," BI editor Joe Weisenthal says. "2013 shaped up to be a much stronger year for car sales than expected, and the numbers reported by auto companies today will be important to watch."
- Uber, the taxi-via-smartphone-app service, can now be found in 60 markets worldwide, including Berlin and Tokyo, Reuters' Sarah McBride reports. "Leaked financials in December indicate that the company, which began connecting passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire about 3-1/2 years ago, is generating $200 million a year in revenue beyond what it pays to drivers," she writes. "Investors, led by Google Inc's Google Ventures, have given Uber around $400 million and valued it at $3.5 billion."
- George Soros says the only thing that matters for markets in 2014, as ever, is China's performance. In a new-oped on Project Syndicate, the billionaire investor writes, "The Chinese leadership was right to give precedence to economic growth over structural reforms, because structural reforms, when combined with fiscal austerity, push economies into a deflationary tailspin. But there is an unresolved self-contradiction in China’s current policies: restarting the furnaces also reignites exponential debt growth, which cannot be sustained for much longer than a couple of years. How and when this contradiction will be resolved will have profound consequences for China and the world."
- Manhattan hit a new high in home sales, the FT's Anjli Raval reports. High quality global journalism requires investment. " The number of purchases rose 27 per cent compared with the same period the year before to 3,297, according to new data released on Friday. Although down from 3,837 in the third quarter, this was the highest fourth-quarter tally since records began 25 years ago, according to appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate."
- Michael Aronstein, whose Mainstay Marketfield fund, distributed by New York Life, raised more money than any other last year, told the FT's Steven Foley that prolonged central bank easing has set up a rout in bond prices, and that inflation may already be here. “The only period that may be comparable to this is after the discovery of the New World, when all the Europeans looted all the gold and silver, new money out of the sky, a la the Bernanke Doctrine. You had, basically, a century of inflation in Europe. The tulip bubble didn’t come out of nowhere; that wasn’t just people’s appetite for flowers.”
- The number of unemployed people in Spain saw a record decline in December, falling by a seasonally-adjusted 57,645 . It was the fifth-straight month of seasonally-adjusted declines. The number of Spanish youth unemployed, among the highest in all Europe, also fell 10% YOY.
- India's octogenarian PM Manmohan Singh announced he would not seek a third term, and in a rare press conference — just his third in the last decade— blasted political rival and potential candidate Narendra Modi, saying it would be "disastrous" if he were to be elected. Singh instead endorsed Rahul Gandhi, a politician and the grandson of Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma) and the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru.
- Markets in Asia declined. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell -2%. Korea's Kospi was off -1%. European stocks were higher, led by France's CAC 40 at 0.5%. U.S. futures were pointing higher.
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