Richard Drew / AP

China's holdings fall to lowest levels since 2010

The latest evidence that China is working hard to drive up the value of its currency is new data showing that the PRC sold $66 billion in U.S. Treasuries in November.

Selling of dollar-denominated assets drives up the value of China's renminbi relative to the dollar, and also encourages Chinese citizens to keep their wealth in the country.

Why it matters: Countries like China don't buy American debt to exert control over the U.S., as politicians like to claim, but to manage their domestic economies. As China continues to try to rebalance its economy away from exports to consumer spending, expect its holdings to continue to fall.

Stock analysts are trading positive coverage for access

So says the Wall Street Journal, which published a front-page expose on the relationship between securities firms' research departments and the companies they cover.

In 2003, regulators reached a $1.4 billion settlement with Wall Street firms, after it was revealed that analysts were giving positive coverage to companies in exchange for investment banking deals.

The new game in town is leveraging "buy" ratings to secure face-to-face meetings for securities firms' clients with corporate executives. These meetings are a valuable means for investors to better understand the equities they are buying, and so they are loyal to brokers who can lend this access.

CSX's big day

The biggest winner in trading Thursday was railroad shipping firm CSX, which skyrocketed more than 23% after news of activist interest in the company, led by railroad executive Hunter Harrison.

Why it matters: CSX isn't the poster child of an underperforming company that needs an outside investor to shake it up — the stock is up more than 620% since 2003. Investors jumped on the stock due to the belief that Harrison would agitate for CSX to merge with one of its rivals.

Like other major industries in America, freight rail has seen tremendous consolidation over the past 30 years. A regulatory and public relations battle over whether the country should tolerate further consolidation and higher prices in freight rail will be just a preview of similar debates in other industries.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For decades, the share of Americans moving to new cities has been falling. The pandemic-induced rise of telework is turning that trend around.

Why it matters: This dispersion of people from big metros to smaller ones and from the coasts to the middle of the country could be a boon for dozens of left-behind cities across the U.S.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.
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Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan urged to return absentee ballots to drop boxes

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic attorney general of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes, warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected an effort by Wisconsin Democrats and civil rights groups to extend the state's deadline for counting absentee ballots to six days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. In Michigan, absentee ballots must also be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted.