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Opening Bell: 12.29.16

Grinch ruins Dow 20,000; court ruins SEC in-house judges; vegans spoil schnitzel; and more.
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Santa Rally Fizzles: "Kiss Dow 20,000 Goodbye for 2016" (CNBC)

Stocks stalled out Wednesday, and then declined in the second biggest loss since the election. The Dow opened just a short hop away from 20,000 but lost 111 points, falling to 19,833. The S&P 500 fell 18 to 2,249. "I think Santa is checking into a home," said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS. When asked if the Dow would reach the 20,000 mark this year, he replied, "I don't think so."

Trump Seeks Credit for 5,000 Sprint Jobs SoftBank Touted Earlier (BBG)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump sought credit for Sprint Inc.’s commitment to create or bring back 5,000 jobs that the carrier says are part of broader U.S. hiring plans previously announced by Japan-based parent SoftBank Group Corp. Trump said SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son was among those behind the move to add workers.

SEC’s Use of In-House Courts Unconstitutional, Appeals Court Rules (WSJ)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that the SEC’s process for hiring administrative-law judges violates a clause of the U.S. Constitution that governs presidential and other appointments. The decision diverges from an August ruling, which upheld the SEC’s use of its in-house courts to air claims against people accused of violating securities laws.

China Fault Lines: Where Economic Turbulence Could Erupt in 2017 (BBG)

“The real nightmare for Beijing – and for markets – is a vicious cycle of capital outflows triggering bigger devaluations of the yuan that in turn drive bigger and faster outflows,” Pauline Loong, managing director at research firm Asia-Analytica in Hong Kong, said. “We expect capital outflows to increase in the coming months as Chinese money seeks to maximize exit quotas in case of more stringent restrictions later on.”

Hong Kong and New York battle for IPO Dominance (FT)

When Jack Ma criticised Hong Kong last month for having outdated stock market listing practices, the Alibaba founder hit the city where it hurts. Hong Kong’s rivalry with New York has only heightened since the billionaire chose the US for his e-commerce group’s initial public offering two years ago. And next year, the battle between the world’s two largest listing centres will only become more heated, as three Chinese tech stocks face the same choice as Mr Ma.

Surging Buybacks Say Stock Boom Isn’t Over (WSJ)

Through Dec. 16, companies this month have stepped up their buybacks by nearly two-thirds over the same period last year, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Boeing Co. this month replaced an existing buyback program with a new $14 billion authorization.

Here Are the Best and Worst Performing Assets of 2016 (BBG)

It was a particularly bad year for any currency called the "pound." The Egyptian version was the worst performer in 2016 as the nation took the dramatic step of allowing it to trade freely in an attempt to stabilize an economy struggling with a dollar shortage and concerns over social unrest. Britain's pound tumbled after Brexit and never recovered.

Big Growth in Tiny Businesses (WSJ)

A tiny segment of U.S. manufacturing appears to be thriving—the one with no employees. A mix of technology, economic necessity and adventure is leading more Americans to found companies that plan to stay very small. That entrepreneurial spark also highlights challenges facing the economy, from difficulty re-entering the job market to the diminishing role of fast-growing young firms.

German Minister: Ban Names Such As ‘Vegetarian Schnitzel’ (AP)

Germany's agriculture minister has leapt to the defense of meat lovers, calling for a ban on names such as "vegetarian schnitzel" for meat-substitute products, which he said were misleading consumers. "These terms are completely misleading and unsettle consumers," Christian Schmidt told Germany's Bild daily. "I favor them being banned in the interest of clear consumer labeling."

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