Ballerinas from the New York City Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" pose for photos on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Christmas Eve in New York, December 24, 2013.
Good morning. Here's what you need to know.
- Markets in Asia were mixed in overnight trading. The Japanese Nikkei rose 1.0% and the Shanghai Composite fell 1.6%. European markets are closed. In the United States, futures point to a negative open.
- Gold is trading slightly higher this morning, while oil and Treasuries are flat and the dollar is up slightly against the yen but down slightly against the euro. Liquidity remains thin as many market participants are on vacation this week.
- Weekly jobless claims figures are due out at 8:30 AM ET. Economists predict initial claims fell to 347,000 in the week ended December 21 from 379,000 the week before. Continuing claims are forecast to have fallen to 2.817 million in the week ended December 14 from 2.884 million in the previous week. Follow the data LIVE on Business Insider »
- An unexpected surge in last-minute online shopping rendered UPS unable to deliver all of the packages retailers had promised would be delivered by Christmas. A spokeswoman said customers whose packages have not yet been delivered should receive them on Thursday or Friday and those with delivery guarantees will get appropriate refunds.
- Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine Thursday, prompting the Chinese and South Korean governments to condemn the visit and warn of deteriorating diplomatic ties between nations. The shrine is controversial because in addition to commemorating fallen Japanese soldiers, it honors Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal following World War Two.
- Meanwhile, the Japanese yen fell to a 5-year low against the U.S. dollar overnight and currently trades at ¥104.75. It bottomed out at ¥124.13 in June 2007 before embarking on a long ascent exacerbated by the flight to safe-haven assets during the global financial crisis.
- The Turkish lira hit a record low against the dollar after Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan sacked 10 ministers — half of his cabinet — as part of an unfolding graft scandal. The Turkish central bank's decision to defend the lira with foreign exchange reserves coupled with the upheaval in the Turkish government will likely put further downward pressure on the currency.
- The Chinese interbank lending market remained calm on Thursday following two weeks of turmoil. The 7-day benchmark repurchase agreement rate traded below Wednesday's close of 5.33%, indicating that the PBoC's cash injection into the financial system earlier this week was effective in containing market stress.
- A top Chinese planning official said Chinese economic growth will clock in at 7.6% in 2013, above the country's official 7.5% target. Given higher rates of growth earlier in the year, however, that number may be indicative of a slowdown. "If full-year growth is at 7.6%, it means that the economy was slightly worse than market expectations in the fourth quarter," said Nomura economist Wendy Chen.
- Mizuho Financial Group chairman Takashi Tsukamoto will resign in the wake of a scandal that saw Japan's second-largest bank extend illegal loans to organized crime elements. The bank falsely reported to regulators 230 small transactions worth about $2 million in aggregate, comprised mostly of car loans.
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