Wall Street’s major indexes have closed after scratching out a 600 point drop in the Dow Industrial Average, by the late afternoon it had risen 258 points adding to Wednesday’s historic gains. The Standard & Poor 500 also rose 21 points while it was 70 points off earlier in the day. Despite the big rally, markets still closed much lower for December and the year overall with the Dow rising just seven of the 18 trading days in the month so far and just two more sessions to go.
The Presidential Daily Brief
U.S. stocks fell after Thursday’s open despite Wednesday’s record increase. The Dow Industrial Average fell almost 350 points, reversing the Boxing Day spike by a third, meanwhile the Standard & Poor 500 Index was down 1.2 percent and tech-heavy Nasdaq lowered 1.3 percent. Market volatility has been rife recently – before yesterday’s surge, the markets saw the worst Christmas Eve losses in a decade – a sign investors are worried about economic growth. In light of surprise policy decisions coming from government, Wall Street observers say market volatility is likely to remain.
The president and first lady arrived at Al Asad Air Base Tuesday night to wish American troops a merry Christmas — his first visit to a combat zone. “We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” President Donald Trump said, explaining that Americans shouldn’t fight in foreign conflicts without others paying a “price.” Trump said he had no plans to withdraw the 5,000 American soldiers from Iraq — who may be needed to fight ISIS after the U.S. leaves Syria. Meanwhile, some Iraqi lawmakers criticized the surprise visit as a blow to their country’s sovereignty.
Happy New Year. Following a plunge on Christmas Eve, Wednesday saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average add the biggest single-session gain in history when it jumped more than 1,000 points. The S&P also went up by 5 percent — its best day since 2009 — and the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which suffered the most in recent losses, increased 5.8 percent. Healthy consumer spending helped appease investors, as did Russia’s reassurance it wouldn’t drop oil prices. President Trump also cooled his recent criticism of the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has ordered the Coast Guard’s medical corps to the Mexican border for increased health screenings of migrants following the deaths of two children this month in federal custody. Nielsen said the system to process migrants was at a “breaking point.” Border Protection agents detained 25,172 members of “family units” — the highest number ever recorded — last month. Nielsen also asked for help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and begged parents not to take their children on the perilous northern journey.
Indonesia’s disaster management agency elevated warnings to the second-highest level on Thursday following a series of new volcanic eruptions. Anak Krakatau, which triggered the Sunda Strait tsunami last week that killed at least 430, has been emitting lava in brief, explosive “Strombolian eruptions.” Residents and tourists have been prohibited from a 3-mile radius around the active site and flights have been rerouted. Meanwhile, tens of thousands remain in shelters and aid is just reaching some remote areas impacted by the tsunami as volunteers create makeshift bridges.
Know This: Russia criticized Israel for bombing Syria this week, claiming it endangered civilian aircraft in the area. Protests have erupted in Tunisia after the self-immolation of a journalist. And rescue efforts for 15 Indian miners, trapped in an illegal coal mine for two weeks, have slowed due to flooding.
Remember This Number: 4.1 million. That’s at least how many schoolchildren in the U.S. went on lockdown last year, according to a report by the Washington Post.
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Adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin set off Wednesday on a three-month voyage from Spain’s Canary Islands inside a container of resin-coated plywood. He hopes to bob 2,800 miles to the Caribbean by ocean currents, dropping markers along the way so oceanographers can study his movement. His tiny floating house includes a kitchen, bed and porthole in the floor to catch glimpses of sea creatures. Savin also stowed away foie gras and white wine for New Year’s Eve and a bottle of red wine for his 72nd birthday in January.
One in 20 new fathers experience postnatal depression, according to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry that tracked 3,000 British families for over 20 years. Cambridge University researchers found that girls raised by the affected dads were also more likely to suffer depression by age 18. The authors suggested fathers should get more help to prevent this “small but significant” risk. Simon Stevens, head of Britain’s National Health Service, said new papas would receive regular mental health checks as part of its updated 10-year plan.
The thawing of a 20-year freeze on U.S. copyright expirations means an avalanche of iconic works from the Roaring ’20s will be free to use as of Jan. 1. The release of media created in 1923 — from Felix the Cat cartoons to Aldous Huxley novels to Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim — will be the first dump of its kind since Google was created. Americans can thank the Disney-supported 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, aka the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” for the delay in items reaching the public domain.
Sofia Vergara, 46, filed a motion in court demanding ex-boyfriend Nick Loeb prove he’s a resident of Louisiana, which recognizes embryos as human beings. Loeb, 42, claims to live in Plaquemines Parish, where he’s filed suit to bring the two embryos the couple froze in 2013 to term, and he says he’s established a trust fund for his potential future daughters, “Emma” and “Isabella.” However, a contract he signed with Vergara at a reproductive center in California states that neither can use the embryos without the other’s consent.
The 33-year-old from Portland, Oregon, completed a shore-to-shore journey across the continent Wednesday alone and unsupported, beating Lou Rudd, a British army captain. Both started the 930-mile expedition on Nov. 3, pulling sleds filled with hundreds of pounds of supplies. O’Brady covered the last 80 miles without sleep to reach the Ross Ice Shelf. “I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time,” he said about the last leg of his journey. Rudd, 49, still had about 70 miles left on Wednesday.