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Economic Calendar - Top 5 Things to Watch This Week

·4 min read

By Noreen Burke

Investing.com -- Going into the holiday-shortened Christmas week there will still be plenty to watch out for in markets as investors await the vote on a $900 billion coronavirus aid package. The vaccine rollout effort will widen after Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine became the second to receive FDA approval. Monday could see some stock market volatility following Tesla’s addition the S&P 500, as index funds adjust holdings to match the benchmark's rejig and Brexit negotiations are in the endgame. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

Stimulus on the way?

The U.S. Congress appears close to a vote on a $900 billion coronavirus relief package, after lawmakers reached a last-minute compromise to overcome one of the final obstacles to a deal.

Congressional leaders plan to attach the stimulus package to a $1.4 trillion bill to fund government spending through September 2021. A new government funding deadline is set to expire at midnight Sunday (0500 GMT Monday), risking a government shutdown without a vote.

The coronavirus aid package is expected to include one-off $600 checks for most Americans, enhanced unemployment benefits of $300 per week, help for states distributing coronavirus vaccines and more assistance for small businesses.

Earlier this year Congress approved more than $4 trillion in aid, but many of the funds have since run out, weighing on the economic recovery.

Vaccine campaign widens

More than 3,700 sites around the U.S. are due to start administering Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Monday, vastly widening the rollout started last week with the Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) vaccine.

The U.S. government plans to deliver 5.9 million Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) shots and 2 million Pfizer shots this week.

Initial doses are being given to health professionals. Programs by pharmacies Walgreens and CVS to distribute the Pfizer vaccine to long-term care facilities are expected to start on Monday.

Healthcare experts predict it will take well into 2021 for a significant portion of Americans to be inoculated. Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are soaring to record levels in the U.S., which has failed to mount a coordinated effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Tesla shakeout

Investors may see some volatility on Monday when Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) begins trading as part of the S&P 500 as index funds adjust their portfolios to match the benchmark's shakeup.

Tesla shares have rallied almost 700% year-to-date, placing its stock market value at around $600 billion. It is the world's most valuable auto company, despite having output that is just a fraction of rivals Toyota (NYSE:TM), Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p) and General Motors (NYSE:GM).

Some analysts say its share price is far ahead of fundamentals and there is plenty of debate on how the stock will perform from here on out.

Analysts have an average price target of $396.30 per share, more than a third below its current price - though estimates vary from $40 to $774 per share.

Economic updates

Before the Christmas lull on the economic calendar investors will get updates on the health of the U.S. housing sector with data on existing home sales on Tuesday and new home sales on Wednesday. The housing market is defying slowing economic growth, thanks to pent-up demand and record low mortgage rates.

Personal spending data on Wednesday is likely to be soft given last week’s poor retail sales numbers, but data on durable goods orders is expected to remain relatively firm. A report on consumer confidence will be closely watched amid a push-pull between the positives of vaccine news and concerns over the deteriorating economy and labor market.

Data on initial jobless claims will also be in focus after jumping to the highest level in three months last week, in what was a second straight weekly increase.

Brexit deadline looming

With less than two weeks left to go before Britain exits the European Union when the transition period ends on Dec. 31 there is still no trade agreement in place, putting a trillion dollars worth of trade at risk from tariffs and quotas.

The talks are still deadlocked on two issues - the EU’s fishing rights in British waters and creating a so-called level playing field providing fair competition rules for both sides.

Both sides need to get any deal approved by their parliaments, and with the talks in their final stages, it is expected that any conclusion will most likely come before Christmas.

--Reuters contributed to this report

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