December 28, 2017 / 12:39 PM / 5 months ago

Thursday Morning Briefing

U.S. holiday sales are on track to break records, Islamic State claim responsibility for a suicide attack in Kabul and a special report explores China’s shadow banking industry.

Reuters reporter Kyaw Soe Oo and his sister Nyo Nyo Aye hug each other as he arrives at court in Yangon, Myanmar, December 27, 2017. REUTERS

United States

The U.S. holiday shopping season is on track to break sales records on the back of surging consumer confidence and increased use of mobile devices, presenting an unexpected boon for retailers and the delivery companies they rely on.

Alabama Republican Roy Moore filed a court challenge to the outcome of a Senate election he unexpectedly lost, hours before officials in the state were due to certify his opponent’s victory. 

A storm that has dumped more than 65 inches of snow this week on Erie, Pennsylvania, is expected to slightly taper off on Wednesday after leaving drifts that buried cars, paralyzed the area and made the county declare an emergency. 

A New York lawyer who once advised Martin Shkreli was convicted of helping him defraud a pharmaceutical company, a charge a different jury cleared the drug executive of when it found him guilty of securities fraud earlier this year. Evan Greebel, who was outside counsel to Shkreli’s former company Retrophin, was found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn of charges he conspired to commit wire fraud and securities fraud, prosecutors said.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been accused by a singer of slapping her buttocks without her consent at a party in November. Joy Villa, a vocal Trump supporter who wore a dress bearing the president’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan to the Grammy Awards this year, said she had contacted police in Washington on Sunday to file charges

Breakingviews: Taxes done, Paul Ryan has pick of Midwest boards

World

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a Shi‘ite cultural center and news agency in the Afghan capital that killed dozens of people attending a conference. 

Two Reuters journalists who have been detained in Myanmar for the past two weeks were remanded in custody for a further two weeks as a probe continues into allegations they breached the nation’s Official Secrets Act. 

South Korea said it “humbly accepts” there is no evidence North Korea diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean firms in a now-closed border industrial park to bankroll its weapons programs as the previous government asserted. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that a 2015 agreement with Japan over South Korean “comfort women” was seriously flawed after Japan said any attempt to revise it could damage relations. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a bomb blast in a St Petersburg supermarket on Wednesday was an act of terrorism, and that security forces whose lives were threatened by terrorist suspects should shoot to kill if necessary. 

Israel’s parliament ratified a law barring police investigators from going public with their findings, in what opposition lawmakers saw as a bid to soften scrutiny of corruption probes against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

A stag deer stands in the undergrowth in Richmond Park, in west London, Britain, December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Special report

China’s shadow banking assets grew more than 20% in 2016 – to $9.7 trillion yuan. Now, countries with close trading ties to China are watching closely to see if it can curb the proliferation of risky investment products.

Business

Buoyant commodity prices alongside a pullback in U.S. bond yields and the dollar propelled world stocks to new record highs, signaling the rally would likely extend into 2018. 

Oil prices rose, lifted by strong data from top importer China amid thin trading activity ahead of the New Year weekend. Heading into 2018, traders said market conditions were relatively tight due to ongoing supply cuts led by the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as top producer Russia. 

Reuters TV: Hot money and investment tips for 2018 

Apple and Amazon are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, two sources told Reuters, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push to give the conservative kingdom a high-tech look. Read the exclusive. 

General Electric’s flagship gas turbines ran into problems in Pakistan earlier this year, leading to delays and lengthy outages at three newly built power stations, according to several senior Pakistani officials and power executives. GE has said they were teething problems. But the questions over one of its most important products suggest another setback for the company in a year in which its shares have plunged and third-quarter results were called “horrible” by new Chief Executive John Flannery. 

Mitsubishi Materials said that a push to expand market share had driven a subsidiary to fake product specification, one of several compliance scandals that have come to light this year in a blow to the reputation of Japan Inc.

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