REUTERS/ Damir SagoljA Buddhist monk wearing a gas mask points towards police positions as they clash with anti-government protesters near the Government House in Bangkok December 2, 2013.
Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.
- Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading. Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.60%, Korea’s KOSPI was down 1.05%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.53%. European markets were all down as well, and U.S. futures were pointing lower.
- Construction PMI in the U.K. reached 62.6, the fastest rise in output pace in 10 years. “Anecdotal evidence from survey respondents widely pointed to more favourable business conditions in November, with rising confidence in the economic outlook and improving credit conditions helping to boost spending across the construction sector,” according to the report from Markit.
- This afternoon we’ll get data on U.S. light vehicle sales. Analysts expect them to climb to an annualized pace of 15.75 million units. “Light vehicle sales likely reaccelerated in November after the concerns about the government shutdown interrupted sales in September and October,” UBS’ Kevin Cummins wrote clients.
- As the new year approaches, Wall Street firms are releasing their growth projections for 2014. The general theme, as our Joe Weisenthal sums up: “The final return to a normal non-crisis environment and the search for growth. “Granted, the euro-area is still work in progress, China presents meaningful question marks, Congressional gridlock in the US could still throw sand in the federal fiscal wheels and geopolitics can always surprise,” wrote Citi’s Willem Buiter. “But, enough progress has been made that all of these issues seem less threatening today than 12 months ago.”
- As protests in Ukraine rage on, the country risks a currency crisis, Reuters’ Douglas Busvine reports. “Ukraine’s debt insurance costs jumped and currency traders increased bets on a devaluation after 350,000 people protested on Sunday against Yanukovich’s decision to ditch a trade pact with the European Union,” according to the report. Ukraine’s central bank governor has urged depositors to “be confident in the banking system” and not withdraw their money.
- Apple acquired social media analytics company Topsy for approximately $US200 million yesterday. Topsy is one of the companies digging into Twitter’s treasure trove of information to identify trends, though it’s unclear exactly how Apple will utilise the new acquisition.
- Spending over the Black Friday weekend was a bust, marking the first decline since 2009. Purchases at stores and websites dropped 2.9% to $US57.4 in the four days beginning with the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Bloomberg. Those figure doesn’t bode well for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
- The OECD has released a new global ranking of how students from across the globe do in reading, science, and maths. The U.S. is below the OECD average in all categories while Asian countries continue to climb. “Teenagers in the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in maths since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading,” according to the report.
- The saga of Donald Trump’s “Trump University” continues months after New York state went after the university for allegedly defrauding students. Now Trump will file a formal state ethics complaint against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleging that the AG met with Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner (the real estate developer and owner of The New York Observer), “asking for favours while at the same time downplaying the ongoing probe into her father’s venture,” reports the New York Daily News’ Kenneth Lovett.
- Venezuela suffered a massive power outage last night, affecting the capital of Caracas and other cities. We rounded up some of the eerie images posted online. President Nicolas Maduro suggested “sabotage” was responsible in a tweet. Citizens across Venezuela will head to the polls in six days to vote on a series of contentious municipal elections.