Raphael Warnock became the first African-American to win a US Senate seat in Georgia, as fellow Democratic contender Jon Ossoff clung to a narrow lead in a second contest that will decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.
Mr Warnock, the senior pastor of Martin Luther King Jr’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, was declared the victor by the Associated Press in the early hours of Wednesday morning. He will become only the 11th black senator in US history.
In the other Georgia Senate race, Mr Ossoff led Republican incumbent David Perdue by nearly 16,000 votes.
US government bonds and technology stock futures sold off sharply on the prospect of the Democrats controlling the White House and both houses of Congress. If Democrats win both contests it would prove pivotal for Joe Biden’s presidency, giving him more leeway to implement his legislative agenda.
Mr Biden is set to be officially declared the victor of the 2020 US presidential election on Wednesday when Congress meets to certify the vote. On the eve of what is normally a ceremonial occasion Donald Trump falsely suggested that vice-president Mike Pence could use the occasion to nullify the result. Mr Pence, who never contradicts the president, faces a big dilemma if he wants to maintain the support of his boss.
Meanwhile, 13 Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have been less squeamish about defending the constitution and are planning to resist the certification of Mr Biden’s victory. Business groups voiced alarm at the threat the move posed to US democracy. In a statement earlier this week more than 170 executives urged Congress to certify the vote. (FT)
A finishing line of sorts is tantalisingly in sight — yet reaching it will require a further, costly, test of endurance and resolve, writes our editorial board. Follow our live blog for the latest news and our vaccine tracker as inoculations are rolled out.
Trump moves to ban Chinese payment apps US president Donald Trump moved to ban transactions with Chinese payment applications including Alipay, WeChat Pay and Tencent’s QQ Wallet on Tuesday, stoking tensions with China with just days remaining in his presidency. (FT)
Saudis pledge to cut oil output Saudi Arabia has pledged to slash an extra 1m barrels a day of oil output in February and March as even Russia increases production. Separately, the kingdom and its Arab allies have agreed to restore ties with Qatar, a breakthrough for the region. (FT)
US agencies: Russia probably behind cyber attack Security agencies have said that Russia was probably behind a cyber espionage campaign uncovered late last year, contradicting statements from Donald Trump, who played down the possibility of Moscow’s involvement. (FT)
App makers dodge Apple privacy rules App developers are exploring surreptitious new forms of user tracking to evade Apple’s new privacy rules, which threaten to upend the mobile advertising industry in the coming months. (FT)
Police officer who shot black man in Kenosha will not face charges Prosecutors in Wisconsin will not file charges against the police officer who shot and paralysed Jacob Blake in August, an incident that sparked further outrage amid widespread protests over racial injustice. (FT)
Pan-EU food supply chains hit by Brexit trade deal The food and drink industry has raised serious concerns about the EU-UK trade deal because businesses face punitive tariffs on goods from the bloc processed at British distribution hubs and re-exported to member states. (FT)
Winton’s assets plunge $26bn from peak Winton Group, once one of the world’s biggest hedge funds, has suffered a nearly 80 per cent drop in its assets over the past five years, with poor returns and client withdrawals accelerating in a tough 2020. (FT)
Hong Kong pro-democracy purge Hong Kong police have arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists and politicians in one of the largest purges of opposition figures since Beijing imposed a tough new national security law last year. Separately, Lai Xiaomin, the former head one of China’s biggest asset management companies, has been sentenced to death for corruption. (FT)
South Korean tensions with Iran escalate South Korea has lodged a formal protest with Iran, calling for the immediate release of five nationals aboard an oil tanker seized by Tehran. The incident highlighted the simmering dispute between the nations over $7bn in Iranian cash held by South Korean banks. The diplomatic stand-off comes as South Korea aims for military independence after seven decades depending on the US. (FT)
Fed releases December minutes The US Federal Reserve will release the minutes of last month’s meeting when the Open Market Committee decided to extend debt purchases to boost the flagging economy. (FT)
EU regulator rules on Moderna The European Medicines Agency is expected to recommend the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. (Politico)
Facebook faces Asia-Pacific political hurdles Facebook is pushing hard into developing Asian markets as the pace of its growth in the west slows, but a growing array of political stand-offs threatens the social media company’s relentless global expansion. Meanwhile, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, believes Teams is becoming a digital platform as significant as the internet browser. (FT)
Joe Biden needs a fresh approach to China tech The problem for Mr Biden is twofold, writes Yuan Yang. First, the US has lost its dominance in many aspects of global technology. Second, the Trump administration’s offensive on Chinese tech is easily read as a protectionist attempt to claw back that dominance. (FT)
GM revs to overtake Tesla Industry experts agree that the market for electric vehicles will become the entire vehicle market — the question is when. General Motors had a head start but it is now playing catch-up to Tesla. Meanwhile, Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contract maker, is stepping up its push into electric vehicles. (FT)
Political pressure weighs on HSBC US sanctions in retaliation for Beijing’s national security law have been a compliance nightmare for international banks in Hong Kong, writes Primrose Riordan. The freezing of a bank account of a former pro-democracy lawmaker proves problems are becoming more fraught. (FT)
UK police battle for black Britons’ trust British police cite the importance of stop-and-search in detecting weapons used in street killings, of which black men are disproportionately victims. But with rising distrust in African-Caribbean communities over discriminatory tactics and excessive force, officers face the question of whether they can restore it. (FT)
New Zealand’s housing crisis poses big test for Ardern More than three years after Jacinda Ardern was elected prime minister on a platform of tackling the housing crisis and inequality, many experts say the situation has only become worse. Even as Ms Ardern was re-elected in a landslide in October, analysts warn a failure to deliver on early promises could alienate voters. (FT)
Energy deals point to Belarus-Russia thaw Vladimir Putin was losing patience with Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko for dragging his heels on integration projects and failing to mollify protesters. But a series of recent agreements could indicate a changing attitude from Moscow. (FT)
Women miss out on 2020’s IPO boom Last year was historic for initial public offerings in the US: 442 companies went public, but only five were founded by women. Since the NYSE’s founding in 1817, only 20 women have founded and led a company through an IPO. (BI)
US foreign policy: Joe Biden’s priorities in 2021 US defence correspondent Katrina Manson looks at five of the most pressing security and diplomatic challenges the Biden administration faces in the coming year. (FT)