U.S. Stocks Resume Record-Setting Year-End Rally: Markets Wrap

By: Jeremy Herron and Claire Ballentine

U.S. stocks bounced back to claim fresh records as investors chased gains that have added more than $5 trillion to valuations this year. Oil topped $61 a barrel and Treasuries edged higher.

After dipping Wednesday, the S&P 500 index on Thursday pushed past 3,200 for the first time, led by tech, health-care and communications shares. The benchmark is up more than 7% in the fourth quarter and 27% so far this year. Data showing that jobless claims fell less than forecast did little to alter views on the health of the economy. Markets ignored the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The dollar steadied against its major peers. China said it was in close contact with the U.S. to sign the initial trade deal announced last Friday.

Treasuries bucked a sell-off in sovereign bonds from London to Tokyo as monetary decisions rolled out. Sweden’s central bank raised its benchmark to end half a decade of sub-zero interest rates, a move that will provide a test case for global counterparts with negative borrowing costs.

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Above the Arctic Circle, a once-flourishing Russian coal-mining town is in rapid decline

By: Kenneth Dickerman andRoman Demyanenko

A little over 90 miles from the Arctic Circle sits the coal-mining town of Vorkuta, Russia. Situated in the permafrost, it is one of the largest cities north of the Arctic Circle and is the easternmost town in Europe. Now a city in decline, Vorkuta was once a place where people voluntarily went, looking for work in the coal industry, and also a place where prisoners were sent to work as forced labor. In 2018 and 2019, Russian photographer Roman Demyanenko went to see how it is faring today.

Demyanenko’s photos paint a portrait of a town in decline, but one where glimpses of a different time punctuate a now-downtrodden landscape. His photos reveal Soviet block housing blanketed in heavy snow or just standing in the distance, crumbling away. Photos of railroad tracks leading to distant smokestacks belching black threads into the sky are paired with photos of children sitting under old Soviet statues, girls dancing, men looking out into decrepit courtyards, and kids being, well, kids.

Vorkuta was once more robust. The place was discovered during an expedition by Russian geologist Georgy Chernov. Coal from there was used to help Joseph Stalin’s efforts to industrialize Russia. Demyanenko also notes that the town was used for darker purposes. After Stalin’s “Great Terror” repressions in 1937 and 1938, political prisoners were sent there to a Gulag camp called Vorkutlag to work the mines.

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Bitcoin Price Reaches Fair Market Valuation, While Costs of Production Rise

By: Tony Spilotro

Bitcoin price may be dropping deeper into a downtrend over the course of the last few months, but the first-ever cryptocurrency is actually much closer now to fair market value than it has been throughout the year.

However, as Bitcoin price falls toward fair valuations, the cost of production rises exponentially, and may be part of the cause of the downtrend itself.

Bitcoin Price Valued Fairly At Current Levels, According to New Data

Chartered financial analyst and staunch Bitcoin supporter Timothy Peterson has shared various metrics from crypto data aggregator CoinMetrics related to the leading cryptocurrency by market cap.

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Apple is reportedly developing satellite technology to support its devices

By: James Vincent

new report from Bloomberg claims Apple is working on satellite technology to beam data to users’ devices, and could launch a new initiative using the tech within five years.

There are a lot of unknowns and caveats, though. The project is “still early and could be abandoned,” says Bloomberg, and it’s not clear what Apple’s end goal is. It’s also not known if the company wants to develop its own satellites or simply utilize others’ satellite data.

With the technology in hand, though, the iPhone maker could do a number of useful things. It could improve its maps service and location tracking, or boost mobile reception and internet coverage for its devices, making the firm more independent of carriers.

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Getting a medical marijuana card is easier than ever — and it could help you avoid lines, save money when recreational sales start

By: Tom Schuba 

Want to skip lines at dispensaries, avoid hefty taxes and have access to a consistent pot supply after recreational marijuana is legalized?

If you qualify for a medical cannabis card, you can do just that — and a streamlined process means you might be able to start buying weed less than 24 hours after submitting an application.

Illinois’ medical pot program, made permanent in August, has recently undergone a massive expansion after years of stringent control while it was a pilot. In addition to the 52 conditions covered by the program — including post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and autism — state residents who have been prescribed opioid painkillers can now access medical marijuana through the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program.

With less than two weeks until weed is fully legalized across Illinois, state lawmakers are warning of a supply shortage as the limited number of dispensaries gear up for a huge influx of new customers. Though the state’s stash may quickly be depleted, medical patients will be able to breeze past the lines at many dispensaries and buy cannabis from reserves state law requires pot shops to keep.

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Lawmakers reassure medical cannabis patients amid supply concerns as Illinois prepares for recreational sales

By: Cole Lauterbach

State legislators responsible for the passage of Illinois’ recreational cannabis law are working to reassure medical cannabis patients worried about shortages after recreational sales begin Jan. 1.

In an open letter, state Reps. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield; Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago; Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria; Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago; David Welter, R-Morris, and state Sens. Laura Fine, D-Glenview and Heather Steans, D-Chicago said the law was crafted to ensure ample supply for the state’s medical cannabis cardholders.

“There should be no doubt that medical cannabis patients will be prioritized once CRTA becomes effective in January,” they wrote. “CRTA provides medical cannabis patients priority sales in the event of any product shortages, and also guarantees medical cannabis dispensaries shall continue to provide the same variety and quantity of product as they did on July 1, 2019.”

Any dispensary that fails to keep that supply on hand could face a $10,000 fine per instance. 

“We put in place in our law language requiring dispensaries to make available not just quantity but variety,” Cassidy said Wednesday. 

Illinois’ medical cannabis program has grown to nearly 100,000 patients after fingerprinting and background check requirements were lifted this year. 

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5G in 2020: How devices and networks will evolve over the next year


Despite what some cynics have said, 2019 was a pretty good first year for 5G, the next-generation cellular standard. Carriers successfully launched early 5G networks a year ahead of the original schedule, multiple devices became available for purchase — without any HTC ThunderBolt-style debacles — and consumers signed up for 5G data plans faster than they did for early 4G. South Korea and China already have millions of 5G subscribers, though U.S., Australian, and European numbers aren’t as clear.

That ambiguity is the product of two issues. First, carriers in many countries — including the U.S. — haven’t set up separate 5G plans for users, instead offering 5G free to customers on existing “unlimited” 4G plans. Second, the vast majority of customers have held off on purchasing 5G hardware while governments, carriers, and phone makers sort out early performance questions and hiccups.

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Peninsula to acquire gold exploration package in Western Australia

Peninsula Mines has signed a binding agreement to acquire complete interest in a 76km² exploration package in Western Australia’s Southern Cross region.

The tenement package extends over a 30km contiguous strike that covers gold-bearing structure in the Southern Cross region, a proven greenstone gold belt.

It is approximately 380km from Perth in the Yilgarn goldfields, south-east of the Southern Cross township.

Also known as the Southern Cross Greenstone Belt, the portfolio comprises 20 prospecting licences, one exploration licence and one exploration licence application with a combined area of around 76km².

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Canada Is Sitting Pretty for 2020 as Value Stocks Outpace Growth

By: Divya Balji

Canada’s stock market is on pace for its biggest gain in a decade. But 2020 may be the year it stands above the pack.

Despite an 18% climb so far in 2019 with 15 fresh records and $408 billion in market value added, the S&P/TSX Composite Index is in the middle of the pack compared with top-performing stock markets. Its American counterpart, the S&P 500, has risen 25% in a bull market that everyone thought was living on borrowed time. Even stocks in resource-heavy Australia and New Zealand have done better.

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