Trump Signs Bill, PBoC Ramps Up Campaign, Natgas Futures

Trump Signs Bill, PBoC Ramps Up Campaign, Natgas Futures

Trump Signs Stimulus Bill

President Donald Trump finally signed into law the $900 billion package of coronavirus relief measures. This bill, which Trump had previously refused to sign, was agreed before Christmas by Congress.

Trump had initially refused to sign the bill, because of his objections to spending provisions. That’s in a separate bill that keeps the government funded through the coming months. Both bills were approved by Congress with majorities big enough to override a presidential veto, however.

The House of Representatives is set to vote later on raising the direct payments to households. That will be to $2,000 from the $600 foreseen in the stimulus bill. 

While House Democrats have hinted that they will support that bill. It’s likely to be blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate, which reconvenes on Tuesday.

PBoC Ramps Up Campaign Against Ma’s Ant Group

Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) shares in Hong Kong dropped another 8% overnight. The Chinese central bank launched a fresh attack on its financial services affiliate Ant Group.

Deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, Pan Gongsheng, accused the group of regulatory failings. This was in the comments published on the PBoC’s website on Sunday. 

Pan said the group should correct its operations in consumer credit and wealth management. They operate on much fatter profit margins than its core payments business.

These comments add to the evidence of a concerted campaign by Beijing. That is to curtail the wealth and influence of Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma. 

Chinese antitrust regulators launched an investigation into Ma’s operations only last week. This drove its shares down 13% in New York on Friday. 

Earlier in the fall, regulators had already frustrated Ant Group’s plans for a $37 billion IPO. Since then, shares of Alibaba have fallen by over a quarter.

Natgas Futures Dropped to 3-month Low

Natural Gas futures in the U.S. plunged another 8%. Weather forecasts show no sign of a prolonged cold spell.

The front-month contract fell to $2.31 per mmBtu. That was its lowest since early September.

Warm weather is coming at a time when natural gas storage levels are still above their historical averages. The most recent EIA inventories were over 5% above both the year-earlier level and the five-year average.

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