FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times


Donald Trump has blasted Republicans who plan to support certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the US election as members of a “surrender caucus”, deepening the intraparty split over the looming transfer of power in Washington.

In a series of tweets, the US president pressed lawmakers from his own party to join his attempt to overturn the results of the November election, less than three weeks before Mr Biden is due to be sworn in as president.

Mr Trump is facing a backlash from across the political spectrum over a call he made during the weekend to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, urging him to “find” extra votes to reverse Mr Biden’s win in the southern state.

A joint session of Congress is expected on Wednesday to certify Mr Biden’s electoral college victory. Twelve Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have said they would object to Mr Biden’s win based on unfounded allegations of voter fraud.

Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election reveal a moment of grave danger for US democracy, our editorial board writes. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

The pandemic’s darkest hour is yet to come, writes Anjana Ahuja. Follow our live blog for the latest.

In the news

Renminbi rallies to highest level in two years China’s currency has crossed the important 6.5 per dollar threshold, wiping out most of the losses suffered since the start of the country’s trade war with the US. MSCI’s Emerging Markets Currencies index rose 0.5 per cent against the dollar to close near an all-time high. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China has eased financial conditions after interbank rates doubled in the second half of the year. (FT)

EU share trading flees London after Brexit The UK capital’s financial sector started to feel the full effects of Brexit on the first trading day of 2021 as nearly €6bn of EU share dealing shifted away from the City to facilities in European capitals. (FT)

Companies unwind Haven healthcare venture The joint healthcare venture between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase will shut down, less than three years since it pledged to use the companies’ combined heft to lower costs and improve care. (FT)

Renowned surgeon Atul Gawande was initially tapped as Haven’s chief executive but later stood down to become its chairman © Getty Images for Geisinger Health System

Iran ramps up uranium enrichment and seizes tanker Tehran has begun enriching uranium up to 20 per cent and seized a South Korean-flagged tanker in Gulf waters on Monday, moves that could escalate tensions with the incoming US administration as it seeks to revive the nuclear deal. (FT)

Bitcoin tumbles back to $30,000 in volatile trading The cryptocurrency dropped heavily in value on Monday since the all-time high above $34,000 set a day before. SkyBridge, the fund of hedge funds led by Anthony Scaramucci, is hoping to collect new assets with the launch this week of a bitcoin fund after logging its worst year since 2008. (FT)

Line chart of Price of a coin in $ showing Bitcoin hits a speed bump

Indian telecoms masts damaged amid farm protests Reliance Industries, the country’s largest company, said it was the victim of a campaign of vandalism against its businesses after more than 1,500 telecom towers were damaged amid protests by farmers against New Delhi’s agricultural reforms. (FT)

Kirin to buy stake in Indian craft beer maker Bira 91 The Japanese brewer has agreed to invest about $30m for a high single-digit percentage stake in India’s Bira 91 as it looks to improve on a patchy record of overseas deals with its latest bet on the $90bn global craft beer industry. (FT)

Workers at Google parent Alphabet unionise Hundreds of workers at the tech group announced that they have formed a union, a rare move within Silicon Valley that is set to increase tension between the company and its employees. (FT)

UK court blocks Assange extradition to US A London court has blocked the extradition of the WikiLeaks’ founder to the US to stand trial on criminal charges, on the grounds that the move would put him at risk of suicide. If found guilty Julian Assange, who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, faces up to 175 years in jail. (FT)

The day ahead

Georgia Senate elections Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler will face off against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in run-off elections that will determine control of the US Senate. The results could rattle US stocks. (FT, Reuters)

Kelly Loeffler takes part in a campaign event in Norcross, Georgia on Thursday © EPA-EFE

Gulf Arab summit On Tuesday Saudi Arabia will host the annual summit, where more details of Monday’s announcement that Riyadh has agreed to reopen its land, air and sea borders with Qatar are expected to be announced. Separately, Saudi Arabia on Monday warned Opec and allies outside the oil cartel against unleashing more barrels on to a fragile market. (FT)

What else we’re reading

China’s secret prisons in spotlight The plight of two Canadians detained in China since 2018 is a stark symbol of Beijing’s increased use of secret prisons and foreign nationals as political tools under president Xi Jinping, say human rights activists and former detainees. (FT)

Stress test looms for financial system in 2021 The banks emerged relatively safe from last year’s crisis, writes John Plender. But volatility rises as shadow banks become a bigger provider of liquidity to markets. (FT)

How to make flexible jobs work It is time for managers to develop long-term strategies to support staff, writes Emma Jacobs. Now is a good moment to rethink business principles and put humans before profits, says Ravi Mattu, and Isabelle Berwick lists the words that sum up where we are heading in terms of workplace culture and practices this year. (FT)

© FT Montage: KT Images/iStock/Getty

Europe has handed China a strategic victory By signing an investment treaty with Beijing, the EU has signalled that it doesn’t care about the squelched freedom of Hong Kong, intensified oppression in Xinjiang and other acts of Chinese aggression, writes Gideon Rachman. As president Xi Jinping racks up international deals, he complicates Joe Biden’s job. (FT, NYT)

There’s a lot of risk in the EU-China investment treaty, and possibly not that much reward, Alan Beattie writes in Trade Secrets. Sign up here.

It’s time to think about debt cancellation Drastic times call for drastic measures and monetary policy is not equipped to deliver what is needed, writes Mark Dowding, chief investment officer at BlueBay Asset Management. Fresh austerity risks a public backlash, says OECD chief economist Laurence Boone. (FT)

Laurence Boone says governments should take over from central banks as the main driver of economic stimulus © Bloomberg

Fast-food stocks reveal hunger for Indian shares In a country with its own strong culinary traditions, investors have rushed into shares of US-style fast-food companies as the broader Indian stock market has risen to new records, writes Benjamin Parkin. (FT)

The US polling industry under fire In the wake of the 2020 race, pollsters and forecasters are once again facing a reckoning after underestimating support for Donald Trump and the Republican party. And some believe November’s misses are more serious than four years ago. (FT)

Shonda Rhimes, an impresario rewriting television’s script The executive producer behind the Netflix period drama hit show Bridgerton has become one of television’s most bankable talents and is on her way to creating a multimedia empire. (FT)

© Joe Cummings

Video of the day

Will tech stocks end their bull run in 2021? The FT’s Robert Armstrong asks if the 2020 stock market rally — mostly driven by tech stocks — is coming to an end and if value stocks are due a rebound in 2021. (FT)

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