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North American Morning Briefing: Stocks to Rise -2-

12/23/2021 | 05:55am EDT

Judge Mary Walrath of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., said Hertz's unsecured bondholders weren't entitled to collect interest payments at the contractual rate following the rental-car company's bankruptcy filing last year. The judge also absolved Hertz of any obligation to make premium payments on bonds that were scheduled to come due in 2022 and 2024 to compensate for the early retirement of those debts.

Covid-19 Marches Toward Endemic Status in U.S. as Omicron Spreads

The Omicron variant's aggressive advance is the latest twist in the course of a disease that public-health experts say is on a path toward becoming endemic in the U.S.

In other words, the Covid-19 pandemic won't have an end date. Rather, a crisis that engulfed the world within months of the coronavirus's discovery in China will dissipate in fits and starts into something that feels more like normal over the course of years, infectious-disease experts say.

Consumer Spending Likely Slowed in November

Consumer-spending growth likely cooled in November, economists say, and risks are now mounting for the broader economy to slow amid the latest wave of Covid-19 cases.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate that U.S. consumer spending rose by 0.6% in November from a month earlier, after climbing 1.3% in October.

Jobless Claims Trending Near Historic Lows Despite Omicron Concerns

New applications for unemployment benefits have been hovering near historically low levels in recent weeks, as businesses hold on to workers amid a tight labor market.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate that initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, held steady at a seasonally adjusted 206,000 in the week ended Dec. 18, a level unchanged from the prior week, and just above the lowest levels in a half-century. The Labor Department will release the latest data at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

M&A Likely to Remain Strong in 2022 as Covid-19 Looms Over Business Plans

Companies are gearing up for another banner year for deal making.

Mergers and acquisitions hit a record in 2021, fueled by low interest rates, a surge in private-equity fundraising and companies' efforts to respond to broader shifts in their industries. The total value of global M&A transactions through Dec. 21 was $5.7 trillion, up 64% from the same period a year before, according to Refinitiv, a data provider. The total number of deals, meanwhile, rose 22% during that period, to 59,748, Refinitiv said.

Air Cargo Also Disrupts Supply Chain as Goods Spill Out of Warehouses

Cargo flights provided a solution this year for producers of consumer electronics, machine parts and toys that struggled to move goods along rails and through ports. Then the airports got clogged.

Labor shortages at air-cargo hubs like Chicago O'Hare International Airport during the fall have disrupted operations for the ground-handling companies that unload planes, and left goods piling up. Airlines, handlers and freight companies said they are working to speed up loading and security checks, tapping warehouse robots and trained sniffer dogs.

ETFs Claim More of Muni Market

Municipal bond investors are piling into exchange-traded funds, attracted by low costs and the ability to trade quickly.

Muni ETFs held $80 billion as of the end of the third quarter, up from less than $50 billion two years ago, Federal Reserve data shows. Citigroup projects they will hold $125 billion by December 2022.

Gas Price Surge Will Keep Eurozone Inflation Higher in 2022 -- Analysis

This year's surge in natural gas prices means that eurozone headline inflation will be higher in 2022 than previously expected, even if oil prices decline, economists say.

The jump in gas prices could push inflation in the single-currency bloc up to one percentage point higher next year than it would otherwise have been, Capital Economics says.

Supreme Court Sets Oral Arguments on Biden Covid-19 Vaccine Rules

WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hold a special sitting to hear oral arguments early next month on whether the Biden administration can enforce Covid-19 vaccine-or-testing rules for large private employers, as well as vaccine requirements for many healthcare workers.

The cases, set for fast-track arguments on Jan. 7, could go a long way to determining how much latitude the administration has to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the workplace.

Biden Says He Is More Likely to Run in 2024 if Trump Is His Opponent

WASHINGTON-President Biden said he is eager to run for reelection against Donald Trump in 2024 and expressed regret that he didn't act more quickly to purchase at-home Covid-19 tests to distribute to the public.

In an interview with ABC News that aired on Wednesday night, Mr. Biden, 79, said he planned to run for reelection if he remains healthy. "If I'm in the health I'm in now-if I'm in good health-then, in fact, I would run again," he said.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon Carjacked in Philadelphia

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked at gunpoint in Philadelphia on Wednesday as she walked to her car from a meeting, according to her office and law-enforcement officials.

The Pennsylvania Democrat wasn't physically harmed, her office said.

Write to paul.larkins@dowjones.com TODAY IN CANADA

Earnings:

None scheduled

Economic Indicators (ET):

0830 Oct Payroll employment, earnings & hours

0830 Oct GDP

Market Talk:

Dye & Durham's Link Bid Looks Like Favorable Outcome

Dye & Durham's plan to acquire 100% of Australian data services company Link at A$5.50 a share looks to be a favorable outcome for Link's shareholders, says Morgans.

It says that the bid is superior to Carlyle Group's recent indicative bid for Link of A$5.38 per share. Still, Morgans reckons there is potential for Carlyle Group to come back with a higher bid for Link after conducting due diligence.

"A$6.00 per share would always tempt the board, particularly given Link's recent struggles and likely on-going shareholder pressure," says Morgans. (alice.uribe@wsj.com)

Expected Major Events for Thursday

00:01/UK: Dec CBI Growth Indicator Survey

00:01/UK: Nov UK monthly automotive manufacturing figures

05:00/JPN: Oct Indexes of Business Conditions - Revision

05:30/JPN: Nov Tokyo area department store sales

05:30/JPN: Nov Nationwide department store sales

06:00/JPN: Nov Revised Machine Tool Orders

07:00/GER: Nov Foreign trade price indices

09:00/ITA: Dec Consumer Confidence Survey

09:00/ITA: Dec Business Confidence Survey

13:00/RUS: Weekly International Reserves

13:30/CAN: Oct Payroll employment, earnings & hours

13:30/US: Nov Personal Income & Outlays

13:30/CAN: Oct GDP

13:30/US: Nov Advance Report on Durable Goods

13:30/US: 12/18 Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report - Initial Claims

13:30/US: U.S. Weekly Export Sales

14:45/US: Consumer Comfort Index

15:00/US: Dec University of Michigan Survey of Consumers - final

15:00/US: Nov New Residential Sales

15:00/US: 3Q GDP by State

15:30/US: 12/17 EIA Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

21:30/US: Foreign Central Bank Holdings

21:30/US: Federal Discount Window Borrowings

23:30/JPN: Nov CPI (Nation), CPI ex-food (Nation)

23:50/JPN: Nov Services Producer Price Index

23:50/JPN: Dec Provisional Trade Statistics for 1st 10 days of Month

All times in GMT. Powered by Kantar Media and Dow Jones.

Expected Earnings for Thursday

Bit Digital Inc (BTBT) is expected to report for 3Q.

Cronos Group Inc (CRON,CRON.T) is expected to report $-0.10 for 3Q.

Eargo Inc (EAR) is expected to report for 3Q.

Forward Industries (FORD) is expected to report for 4Q.

Li-Cycle Holdings Corp (LICY) is expected to report for 4Q.

SandRidge Mississippian Trust I (SDTTU) is expected to report for 3Q.

Sanderson Farms (SAFM) is expected to report $6.33 for 4Q.

Powered by Kantar Media and Dow Jones.

ANALYST RATINGS ACTIONS

Adagio Therapeutics Cut to Hold From Buy by Jefferies

Agco Corp Cut to Market Perform From Outperform by Bernstein

Allakos Cut to Market Perform From Outperform by SVB Leerink

Allakos Cut to Market Perform From Outperform by William Blair

ALX Oncology Cut to Hold From Buy by Jefferies

BigCommerce Holdings Raised to Outperform From Neutral by Wedbush

Caterpillar Raised to Outperform From Market Perform by Bernstein

Cerner Cut to Sector Weight From Overweight by Keybanc

Darden Restaurants Raised to Buy From Hold by Stifel

EVO Payments Raised to Buy From Neutral by Northcoast Research

Global Payments Raised to Buy From Neutral by Northcoast Research

Paccar Raised to Outperform From Market Perform by Bernstein

Scholar Rock Holding Corp. Tumbles on Analyst Downgrade

Scholar Rock Holding Cut to Hold From Buy by Jefferies

Williams-Sonoma Raised to Buy From Hold by Loop Capital

This article is a text version of a Wall Street Journal newsletter published earlier today.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

12-23-21 0555ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ADAGIO THERAPEUTICS, INC. 5.51% 2.87 Delayed Quote.-60.47%
AGCO CORPORATION 1.22% 123.6 Delayed Quote.6.53%
ALLAKOS INC. -1.54% 3.19 Delayed Quote.-67.42%
ALX ONCOLOGY HOLDINGS INC. -0.83% 9.58 Delayed Quote.-55.42%
BIGCOMMERCE HOLDINGS, INC. 1.90% 17.7 Delayed Quote.-49.96%
BIT DIGITAL, INC. -6.40% 1.61 Delayed Quote.-73.52%
CATERPILLAR INC. 1.40% 207.19 Delayed Quote.0.22%
CITIGROUP INC. -0.38% 47.46 Delayed Quote.-21.41%
CRONOS GROUP INC. 3.52% 4.41 Delayed Quote.-11.45%
DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC. -1.32% 126.38 Delayed Quote.-16.10%
EARGO, INC. 20.31% 1.54 Delayed Quote.-69.80%
EVO PAYMENTS, INC. -0.76% 22.3 Delayed Quote.-12.89%
FORWARD INDUSTRIES, INC. -4.14% 1.39 Delayed Quote.-10.90%
GLOBAL PAYMENTS INC. -1.87% 119.92 Delayed Quote.-11.29%
LATITUDE GROUP HOLDINGS LIMITED -1.38% 1.8 Delayed Quote.-10.50%
LONDON BRENT OIL 0.44% 113.223 Delayed Quote.41.60%
PACCAR, INC. -0.56% 83.28 Delayed Quote.-5.64%
S&P 500 -0.29% 4008.01 Real-time Quote.-15.57%
S&P GSCI NATURAL GAS INDEX 1.91% 381.6369 Real-time Quote.108.18%
SANDERSON FARMS, INC. -0.78% 186.58 Delayed Quote.-2.36%
SCHOLAR ROCK HOLDING CORPORATION -6.63% 5.21 Delayed Quote.-79.03%
THE CARLYLE GROUP INC. -0.29% 37.56 Delayed Quote.-31.58%
WTI 1.11% 114.185 Delayed Quote.44.13%
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