An employee works in front of newly made giant dolls of Fuleco the Armadillo, the official mascot of the FIFA 2014 World Cup, at a factory in Tianchang, Anhui province January 6, 2014. The 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil from June 12 through July 13.
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- The U.S. is set to experience unprecedentedly cold weather over the next 48 hours. The FT says the "polar vortex" sweeping down from the Arctic will likely cause energy prices to spike, and endanger crops. Tuesday alone could be the coldest day in 20 years. Flights across the U.S. remain delayed or canceled, and cities across the Midwest, including in Chicago, which rarely takes such measures, have closed schools.
- Turkey's Lira fell to another record low against the dollar as the country's corruption crisis rolled on. As the FT's Robin Wigglesworth reports, "Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s finance minister and a former Merrill Lynch economist, admitted to the Financial Times that the lira’s slump “obviously has some negative implications for the Turkish economy”, but said the country could still hit its 4 per cent growth target this year. Many investors are more skeptical, and have highlighted Turkey as perhaps the most vulnerable of the so-called “fragile five” emerging markets to the US Federal Reserve’s decision in December to start scaling back its bond-buying programme."
- Spain's services sector purchasing manager's index surged to 54.2 in December from 51.7 in November, with activity and new orders rising at the sharpest pace in six years, aided by discounting. Job cuts also slowed down considerably.
- But Italy and France both saw their services sector purchasing managers indices contract, registering 47.9 and 47.8, respectively. (Anything below 50 is considered contraction.) It was the second-straight month of contraction in Italy, and a six-month low for France.
- Markets in Asia were lower across the board. European markets were barely higher. U.S. futures were pointing higher.
- Men's Wearhouse put in yet another offer for rival Jos. A. Bank, this time bidding $57.50/share in cash, or about $1.6 billion. That is a 52% premium over the close on Oct. 8--the day before Jos A. Bank's initial attempt to buy its rival--and a 5.7% premium over Friday's close of $54.41, according to Marketwatch. "Although we have made clear our strong preference to work collaboratively with Jos. A. Bank to realize the benefits of this transaction, we are committed to this combination and, accordingly, we are taking our offer directly to shareholders," Men's Wearhouse Chief Executive Doug Ewert said.
- The specter of deflation is now stalking Europe, the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Fidler writes. "...inflation is stubbornly low, under 1% on average across the 18-nation bloc, despite the money that the European Central Bank has been pumping into the economy with the aim of spurring investment and growth, actions that often push up inflation. That is way under the ECB target of 'below, but close to 2%,' and, if the average is below 1%, more economies using the euro are at risk of deflation."
- Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, announced she is abandoning her Senate bid to unseat Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi. BI's Brett LoGiurato says her five-month campaign had been a "disaster" compounded by a feud that had erupted with her sister, Mary, who is gay. Liz Cheney had said she continued to oppose gay marriage, and Mary told the New York Times that the two hadn't spoken since this summer.
- We get two important economic datapoints at 10 a.m. today: factory orders, which are expected to climb 1.6% month-over-month; and the ISM's manufacturing survey, which is expected to further expand to a reading of 54.8 in December, up from 53.9 in November.
- The "post-American Middle East" is rapidly spiraling out of control, the New York Times says. "...the bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds. Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism. Behind much of it is the bitter rivalry of two great oil powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers — claiming to represent Shiite and Sunni Islam, respectively — cynically deploy a sectarian agenda that makes almost any sort of accommodation a heresy."
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