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Top 5 Things to Watch for on Friday, 20th December

Investing.com -- President Donald Trump wants to be tried immediately, but stocks are ignoring the impeachment noise and are consolidating at new record highs anyway. The U.K. House of Commons will - finally - vote through legislation on leaving the European Union, and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) warns of as much as $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter. Plus there's the final reading of U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Friday, 20th December.

1. Brexit bill to pass, as U.K. appoints Bailey as next BoE head

After multiple rejections, the U.K. House of Commons will in all probability finally approve legislation governing the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The Withdrawal Agreement bill has been redrafted by Boris Johnson’s government to expunge previous references it made to protecting workers’ rights, a compromise it had made when it still needed the votes of Labour Party MPs to pass. The bill must still pass the House of Lords and receive Royal Assent before entering into law.

Elsewhere, the government also approved Andrew Bailey to take over from Mark Carney as Governor of the Bank of England in March next year. Bailey is a BOE lifer who currently heads the Financial Conduct Authority and who in the past has also been the institution’s chief banking supervisor.

2. Trump wants a trial now

President Donald Trump called for “an immediate trial” after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to say when she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, the next administrative step that must happen before the upper house votes on whether to remove Trump from office.

Any delay to the trial, which was notionally slated for January, would be intended to give Congressional Democrats time to put pressure on the Republican-controlled Senate to allow for witnesses such as National Security Advisor John Bolton to be called. So far, that pressure does not look like it is likely to succeed.

3. Stocks consolidating at new highs

U.S. stocks are set to open mixed after closing at new record highs again on Thursday.

By 6:35 AM ET (1135 GMT), Dow futures were up 17 points, less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 futures contract and the Nasdaq 100 contract were up in parallel.

Treasury bond yields, meanwhile, continue to grind higher, with the 10-year note yield hitting 1.95% and the 30-year bond hitting 2.37%. The yield curve inversion that so troubled investors earlier in the year has been banished as three interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve have eased fears of a recession.

The earnings calendar is winding down ahead of the holiday period, with CarMax the only report of note due.

4. Final Q3 GDP reading due

There’s a last hurrah for data ahead of the holiday season, with a final reading for third-quarter U.S. GDP due at 8:30 AM ET (1330 GMT). The previous revision put the annualized growth rate at 2.1% any last adjustments are likely to be minimal.

Even so, attention will be paid to sub-components such as real consumer spending and the price index for personal consumption expenditures, the Fed’s favored measure of inflation. The latter is expected at 2.3% for the third quarter, while more up to date figures for November will be published at 10 AM ET

There’s also a final revision of the Michigan consumer sentiment due at 10 AM and the Kansas City Fed regional business survey at 11 AM ET.

5. Shell (LON:RDSa) warns of big write-downs

A week after Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX) announced writedowns of over $10 billion on its oil and gas portfolio, Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) said it faces impairments of as much as $2.3 billion in the current quarter due to decommissioning costs, well write-offs and other factors.

However, Europe’s largest major also said its oil output will be at the top of its previously forecast range, while capital spending for the year will be at the bottom end of the guidance range at just over $24 billion.

The company’s A shares (AS:RDSa) in London fell 1.1%

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