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Indices in wall street are lower today after news of a AT&T and Discovery merger

Major Indices Close in the Red, Santader’s Costly “Christmas Gift” & Good News from South Africa

Stocks fall into the close

The S&P 500 closed in the red, losing 0.30% in the last few minutes of trading, just the day after hitting its 70th record close of the year on Wednesday.  The Dow snapped a six day string of gains as it fell 0.25%.  The Tech Heavy NASDAQ lost 0.20% with light volume being the story across the board.  Overall gains for the week still indicate a Santa Claus Rally remains in place as the market gets ready for the final trading day of 2021.

In European trading stocks fared better with all the major markets rising with the notable exception of the UK where the FTSE 100 was down 0.24%.  The CAC 40 rose 0.16% while the DAX was up by 0.21%.

Santander “Gifts” £130 Million

In a major Christmas mistake Santander accidentally transferred £130 million to thousands of individual and business accounts on Christmas Day.  The transfers have been attributed to an error where a number of one-off and regularly scheduled payments from some 2,000 business accounts at Santander were sent out twice.

💡 What can be done about this kind of thing
Generally, in this sort of case the bumbling bank is able to sweep the mistaken payments back from an account it holds where the transfer was made in error.  The problem with the erroneous payments made by Santander is that most were sent to accounts with other banks, this means that the cooperation of the other financial institutions is required and increases the risk that some of the money may have already been spent.

Apparently, some of the funds have already been returned but large sums remain missing for the moment at least.

The bank issued a statement saying: “We’re sorry that, due to a technical issue, some payments from our corporate clients were incorrectly duplicated on the recipients’ accounts.

None of our clients were at any point left out of pocket as a result and we will be working hard with many banks across the UK to recover the duplicated transactions over the coming days.”

Good news from South Africa

South Africa has lifted its Covid-19 curfew as the peak of the Omicron wave in the country has passed.  Restrictions on public movement have been lifted along with an increase in the limits on gatherings, just in time for the New Year.  Indoor venues will now be able to accommodate up to 1,000 people while outdoor gatherings of as many as 2,000 are now allowed.

💡What’s the current situation
South Africa is now back to the lowest of its Covid-19 alerts and feels confident that that worst of Omicron has passed based on the case levels, recent trajectory of infections and capacity within the healthcare system..

A spokesperson for the government declared that” While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there has been lower rates of hospitalization than in previous waves. This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services,”.

“The pattern and disparity between cases and hospitalization strongly suggest that there will be a lower hospitalization-to-case ratio when the situation becomes more clear.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci

Richard Ellison, CFA CAIA

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