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Markets Closed for MLK Day; China's Q4 GDP +6.5%

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Today, markets are closed in observance of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Passed into law by President Reagan in 1983, the holiday — which always falls on the third Monday in January — the single-most important American of the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century. A Stevie Wonder song released in 1980, “Happy Birthday,” is often seen as a major catalyst in the popular movement to honor Dr King’s legacy. This holiday has been celebrated since 1986.

Even after today, we’re notably light on new economic reports this week. Which is fine, because Q4 earnings season opens the spigot in earnest Tuesday morning. Big Banks continue their parade of Q4 numbers with Bank of America (BAC - Free Report) and Goldman Sachs (GS - Free Report) reporting in the morning, among others. After Tuesday’s close, the first of the FAANG stocks reports: Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) . The streaming service giant currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), after having risen in stock price 47% since this time last year.

The People’s Republic of China has released its figures for Q4 Gross Domestic Product (GDP): +6.5%, higher than the 6.1% analysts were expecting. Considering how the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged most of the world and their economies, the country where the coronavirus originated (in its central Wuhan region) has managed to push 2020 GDP overall to +2.3% (which is its lowest in over 40 years). Though all numbers are reported through the Chinese central government with no independent oversight, economists are paying attention to this notably swift bounce-back in China’s economy.

The country did enact very strict measures once it understood the potential impact of Covid-19 — just about one year ago, roads into and out of Wuhan were blocked with piles of gravel, airports were grounded. Military officers patrolled neighborhoods to help keep citizens indoors. Also, government stimulus measures were taken quickly and assuredly; as a result, China appears to be the only major country to emerge into the vaccine-stage of the pandemic with a relatively robust economy.

Observers have noted Covid cases ticking up in some regions of the country, however (though nowhere near levels seen in the U.S. and other countries with lax measure for avoiding the disease). This takes on added importance when one considers the Lunar New Year holiday coming next month, which carries a real risk of spread as Chinese citizens take the weeks-long holiday to travel and visit family. In other words, the very risk posed in the U.S. over the holiday season here.

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