Alabama upset, Fed decision; Oil watch

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Premarket: Alabama upset, Fed decision; Oil watch – Dec. 13, 2017

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1. Upset in Alabama: The dollar took a minor hit after Doug Jones became the first Democrat in 25 years to win a Senate seat in Alabama.

Why it matters: The result shrinks the Republican majority in the Senate to a single seat, spelling trouble for President Trump’s legislative agenda.

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“Significant fiscal easing just got harder and there’s nothing here to help the dollar,” said Kit Juckes, a strategist at Societe Generale.

The result also has major implications for 2018. Democrats are now only two seats away from a majority in the Senate, an outcome that was unthinkable at the start of the year.

2. Fed’s decision day: The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates at its final meeting of the year.

With the rate hike almost certain, investors will be looking for clues on 2018 and beyond during the final press conference by outgoing chair Janet Yellen.

The central bank has only raised interest rates five times since the 2008 financial crisis. Two have come this year — first in March and again in June.

2. Oil watch: Investors will check OPEC’s monthly report to see if producers are sticking to output cuts designed to reduce a massive oil glut.

OPEC and major producers including Russia agreed last month to extend the curbs by nine months until the end of 2018.

U.S. crude futures were almost 1% higher at $57.70 per barrel.

The Energy Information Administration will publish its weekly U.S. crude inventories report at 10:30 a.m. ET.

4. Global market overview: U.S. stock futures were flat.

European markets opened lower, while Asian markets ended mixed.

The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 closed at new records on Tuesday. The Nasdaq shed 0.2%.

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5. Companies and economics: Shares in Westfield (WEFIF), an Australian firm that operates 33 malls across the U.S., gained 14% in Sydney.

It was purchased Tuesday by Unibail-Rodamco, a European property investment firm based in France.

U.S. inflation data will be published at 8:30 a.m.

U.K. unemployment was 4.3% in the three months ended October, matching its lowest level since 1975.

However, there were 56,000 fewer people in work compared to the previous quarter. The number of people of working age who were classified as economically inactive also increased by 115,000.

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6. Coming this week:

Wednesday — Fed decision and Yellen press conference; U.K. unemployment data; OPEC oil report
Thursday — November U.S. retail sales; Bank of England rate decision; European Central Bank decision; Costco (COST) and Oracle (ORCL) earnings; IEA oil report; EU summit on Brexit
Friday — EU Summit on Brexit

CNNMoney (London) First published December 13, 2017: 4:55 AM ET

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