- COVID Update: Cases have resurged in Europe, where daily new infections have averaged more than 100,000 over the past week. Europe now accounts for about one-third of new cases reported worldwide. This has led to a flurry of new mitigation measures, including strict curfew for Paris and other big French cities, and Londoners prohibited from mixing with other households beginning this weekend. In the US, new cases rose above 59,000, with several Midwestern states reporting elevated levels in recent days. The seven-day average is around the highest it has been since mid-August, while hospitalizations are at the highest level since August 28.
- Stimulus Chatter: Both House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin cited progress in stimulus talks Thursday, with the focus on how the White House would largely accept Democrats' demands over a national coronavirus testing plan. However, while the two sides are “only” $400 billion apart, the level of enhanced unemployment benefits, corporate liability protections, and funding for state and local governments remain unresolved. In addition, Senate Republicans seem to be the biggest obstacle to a deal, a position Senate Majority Leader McConnell doubled down on throughout the day on Thursday.
- Jobless Claims Miss: Weekly Initial Claims came in at 898,000 vs. the 830,000 Briefing.com consensus. Continuing Claims came in at 10 million. For technical reasons, this excludes California, so the true number is likely higher than the headline. Ultimately, many still filing for unemployment benefits are likely to remain on them until the pandemic abates, as temporary layoffs are highly concentrated in leisure, hospitality, and other virus-sensitive industries. With stimulus likely postponed until post-election, economists continue to fear a spending cliff.
- Company Cash: In aggregate, companies in the S&P 1500 have seen cash on their balance sheets increase by more than $600 billion since the end of 2019. Much of the rise results from issuing additional debt to ensure liquidity is ample for an extended downturn. What we will be watching for this earnings season is what companies intend to use the funds for, whether it be capex, share repurchases, dividend payments, company acquisitions, or debt repayments.
- UN World Food Programme won the Nobel Peace Price for its efforts to combat hunger. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the WFP was declared winner of the prestigious award "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict".
- A team of Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons and biomedical engineers has received $13.48 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop implantable ultrasound and other devices that could revolutionize care for people suffering from spinal cord injuries. The results could benefit thousands of U.S. service members and civilians who sustain spinal cord injuries every year.
- Reforestation non-profit One Tree Planted announced today, World Chimpanzee Day, a partnership with global community conservation organization the Jane Goodall Institute on the "Wildlife Habitat & Corridor Restoration Project." The effort will plant more than three million trees, supporting long-term and large-scale restoration of the Albertine Rift Forests across western Uganda. Today also marks the 60th anniversary of the day that Dr. Jane Goodall first arrived in what is now Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, to begin her ground-breaking study of the wild chimpanzees living there.