U.S. stock futures were lower Thursday morning after weekly jobless claims jumped to their highest level since 2017. On the monetary policy front, the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged Thursday. It's Christine Lagarde's first meeting as ECB president. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve ended its final two-day meeting of the year with no change in U.S. rates and no intention to move either way anytime soon. Central bankers cut rates three times in 2019. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday, at his post-meeting news conference, that the Fed would like to see a move in inflation that is significant and persistent before it were to raise rates again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed modestly higher Wednesday, breaking a two-session losing streak.
Uncertainty about whether the U.S. and China can reach a "phase one" trade deal, or at least agree to a detente, before Sunday's deadline for new American tariffs against Chinese products has been hanging over the stock market. On Thursday, President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his top trade advisors to discuss the planned Dec. 15 tariffs on some $160 billion in Chinese goods, three sources familiar with the plans told Reuters. Officials circulated talking points downplaying the repercussions such a tariff hike would have on the U.S. economy ahead of Trump's meeting with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and White House advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro.
Voters across the U.K. are heading to the polls Thursday for a general election that is likely to shape the country for decades to come. The snap vote was called by the government led by Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson because of a parliamentary impasse over the Brexit deal he had negotiated with the EU. Johnson and his Party are aiming to win enough seats to give them a majority in the 650-seat parliament that will enable them to pass their Brexit deal, formally known as the "Withdrawal Agreement." The prime minister has repeatedly said a vote for his party means the ability to "get Brexit done."
Shares of Saudi Aramco surged on their second day of public trading, pushing the kingdom's record IPO to a $2 trillion valuation, briefly touching Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's long-held target for the company. The $2 trillion figure, nearly $1 trillion higher than the world's next-largest public companies Apple and Microsoft, was long ridiculed and regarded with disbelief by much of the international financial community. Riyadh on Wednesday made history by listing 1.5% of its state-run oil giant on its local stock exchange, the Saudi Tadawul.
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School finds that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax on the richest Americans will generate at least $1 trillion less than what the campaign claims, potentially undermining the key funding source for her plans to expand government-backed health care, education and other programs. Warren's tax, if implemented in 2021, would raise between $2.3 trillion and $2.7 trillion in additional revenue over 10 years, well below the $3.75 trillion her campaign estimates, according to the university's report viewed by CNBC.