Wall Street saw gains across the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 amidst signs interest rate hikes might slow. Fed chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged that “moving too fast” could jeopardize economic growth, although he also cautioned against going to the opposite extreme. Also, President Trump refused to rule out pardoning former campaign chair Paul Manafort, calling it “not off the table.”
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In the day's other news, Wall Street shot higher on signs that interest rate hikes might slow down. The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 617 points to close at 25366. The Nasdaq rose nearly 209 points, and the S&P 500 added 61.
All of that after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in New York that the Fed might ponder a pause in raising rates.
We know that moving too fast would risk shortening the expansion. We also know that moving too slowly, keeping interest rates too low for too long, could risk other distortions in the form of higher inflation or destabilizing financial imbalances.
Now, Powell's comments came a day after President Trump blamed recent stock market declines and General Motors plant closings on Fed moves to raise rates.
Today, the president had another warning for GM. He retweeted a suggestion that the automaker should pay back the federal bailout money it received after the 2008 recession.
On another front, the president today refuses to rule out a pardon for his former campaign chair Paul Manafort in the Russia probe. Manafort has pleaded guilty to money laundering and lobbying violations. But Mr. Trump told The New York Post that a pardon is — quote — "not off the table."
Meanwhile, presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani confirmed that Manafort's lawyers have shared information with the president's lawyers.
And the president reportedly denied knowing, in advance, of a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign aides and Russians. The denial came in written answers to the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
Russia's military announced today that it is sending more anti-aircraft missiles to occupied Crimea, amid a new crisis with Ukraine. Russian vessels seized three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors in the Kerch Strait on Sunday, claiming they illegally entered the area.
Today, President Vladimir Putin charged that Ukraine's president provoked the crisis to help his reelection chances.
Vladimir Putin (through translator):
Now, a small incident occurred and martial law was introduced in the country. This is being done obviously in the run-up to the presidential polls. This is an absolutely obvious fact. Now, this is a provocation, for sure.
Also today, the Kremlin said it still expects Putin to meet with President Trump at the G20 summit. Mr. Trump threatened yesterday to cancel that meeting over the Russian actions against Ukraine.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban staged new attacks, as a summit convened in Geneva to garner new support for the Afghan government. At least 30 civilians died in overnight fighting in Helmand Province. Afghan officials said most were killed in a U.S. airstrike. A separate attack in Kabul today killed 10 people.
We will examine the state of the Afghan war and peace efforts right after the news summary.
The people of Australia grappled today with extreme fire and extreme rainfall. Sydney was inundated with a month's worth of rain in a single morning. The deluge flooded homes and streets and claimed at least one life.
We have had storm events before in New South Wales. We have had storm events in Sydney before, but not this widespread, not over this continuing period of time.
We have had in excess of a hundred millimeters of rain already in some areas of Sydney, but one of the things we're — happening is the rain is flooding different areas at different times.
Meanwhile, in Northeastern Australia, firefighters in Queensland State battled an unprecedented 138 fires, as temperatures soared to 104 degrees. Authorities said the fire danger has gone to catastrophic. That is the worst on their scale.
A Chinese scientist who says he engineered the first genetically edited babies now says another pregnancy is under way. He Jiankui made the announcement today at an international conference in Hong Kong. There has been no independent confirmation of his claims, but scientists have condemned his experiments.
Back in this country, the final U.S. Senate race in this year's elections has been decided. Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith won Tuesday's runoff in Mississippi. She fended off a challenge from Mike Espy, a former Democratic congressman. Republicans will now hold 53 seats in the new Senate. That is a net gain for them of two.
And there's finally a champion at the World Chess Finals. Norwegian Magnus Carlsen defeated American Fabiano Caruana in London today, to hold on to the title for the fourth time. They had fought to 12 draws before the tie-breaker round. No American has won the championship since Bobby Fischer in 1972.
And the National Christmas Tree was officially lit this evening, ushering in the holiday season in Washington. The president and first lady did the honors, lighting up a Fraser fir from Newland, North Carolina. That carries on a nearly century-old tradition, started under President Calvin Coolidge.