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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. The holiday shopping season started with a bang. But only online.
Consumers spent $9 billion on the web on Friday, a 21.6 percent increase over Black Friday in 2019. The surge in online sales is expected to be outdone today during Cyber Monday, a promotional event that internet retailers concocted in 2005.
Physical stores, however, appear to have had more of a “bleak Friday.” A large portion of consumer spending had moved online long before the pandemic, but the global health crisis is accelerating that trend.
The holiday shopping season comes at a critical moment for the U.S. economy, which is struggling again as the number of coronavirus cases is soaring amid colder weather.
2. Medical experts say the coming months “are going to be just horrible.”
Some say the coronavirus death toll by March may be close to twice the 250,000 figure that the U.S. surpassed only last week. Our epidemiology reporter, Donald McNeil, warns that even as vaccines advance and the medical response to the virus improves, the politics of public health remain a deeply vexing challenge.
3. Republicans kept up their challenges to the election.
On Dec. 8, the nation’s voting results will be considered final.
Still, in the past week, Republicans have made last-ditch efforts to halt or reverse the certification process in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin (which approved its results today, as did Arizona). Above, Joe Biden campaigning in Wisconsin in September.
There are also two federal lawsuits pending in Michigan and Georgia courts. And Republicans have at least one path to the nation’s highest court: After the Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected their attempts to stop or reverse the certification of Pennsylvania’s results, President Trump’s lawyers vowed to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the case.
4. U.S. markets ended November with large gains.
Even with a small decline today, the S&P 500 jumped by 10.8 percent in November, its best monthly showing since April and the fourth-best month for the index in 30 years. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest monthly gain since 1987.
Bitcoin, too, achieved a record. The price of the cryptocurrency hit $19,850.11, nearly three years after its last high. Bitcoin has soared since March, after sinking below $4,000 at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
But in one of the biggest retail collapses in Britain since the start of the pandemic, Arcadia Group, the company that includes the Topshop clothing chain, has gone into administration, a form of bankruptcy.
A ruling for the Trump administration would upend the agreement that the Census Bureau must count all residents, whatever their immigration status, which has governed the count for more than two centuries.
The decision could shift political power from Democratic states and districts to areas that are older, whiter and typically more Republican.
6. An army of angry farmers is encircling New Delhi.
The tens of thousands of