The bottle: Mumm Napa Cuvee M, $24

The back story: So the stock market has you down? Or 2018 was just a rough year for you in general? Here’s a thought: Ring in the new year with something on the sweeter side.

That’s where a sparkling wine like Mumm Napa Cuvee M fits in. This California-made bubbly is in the “sec” (or dry) style, but in the confusing terminology of the wine world, that actually means it’s semi-sweet (“brut” is a popular drier style and “brut nature” is the driest of all). In some ways, the sweet stuff has gone out of favor, at least when it comes to Champagne, France’s signature bubbly — 97% of the Champagne imported to the U.S. is on the dry side, according to one published report.

But that hasn’t deterred Mumm Napa, a three-decade-old U.S. brand, now part of the wine-and-spirits giant Pernod Ricard’s portfolio, that was launched by France’s G.H. Mumm Champagne house. Cuvee M is a relatively more recent addition to the Mumm Napa lineup, having been introduced in 2004. The idea, says a brand spokesman, was “to offer a new, contemporary style of sparkling wine.” The bubbly proved an instant hit and “is now among the winery’s most successful new product launches ever,” the spokesman added.

What we think about it: Dry Champagnes have their place, but we like to mix things up once in a while. And Cuvee M affords that opportunity at an affordable price point. To be clear, this is a sweet but hardly sugary sparkling wine and has some decent acidity to balance things out. The brand says you should pick up notes of wild strawberry, fresh-baked bread, vanilla and honey.

How to enjoy it: Cuvee M pairs well with spicy foods (think Asian or Indian dishes). And it’s a natural with dessert. Of course, if you like a little sweetness in a standalone sip, make it your sparkler to toast 2019. Happy new year!

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More Weekend Sip

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‘You know, I’ve always thought Trump has a right to his opinions, but doesn’t have a right to his own facts.’

That’s former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighing in on President Donald Trump’s insistence that climate change is not real and that he doesn’t believe the conclusions reached by his own science advisers in a recent report.

Bloomberg was talking on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” which dedicated a special program to climate change (see full NBC News transcript).

Host Chuck Todd started the program by telling viewers he would offer a deep dive into the subject that would not include any climate-change deniers. “The science is settled, even if political opinion is not,” Todd said before introducing a panel that included Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown, both longtime climate activists.

Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, while disappointing to those concerned about irreversible environmental damage, has not fully killed the effort to meet the goals of that treaty, which include curbing warming over the century to 2 degrees Celsius, said Bloomberg. Insurers have warned that any greater warming would make the world uninsurable.

“We’re halfway there already, and there’s seven years left to go,” he said. That’s mostly thanks to efforts made by the private sector, individuals and companies. “It would be a lot more helpful if we had a climate champion rather than a climate denier in the White House,” Bloomberg said, but the U.S. can and must meet the goals of Paris if it is to continue to succeed economically, and any credible presidential candidate needs to have a plan to mitigate the effects.

Read now: Absence of clear-cut climate-disclosure policies puts companies in peril: report

Related: New report expected to boost push to make company climate-risk disclosures mandatory

“The presidency is not an entry-level job,” said Bloomberg.

Brown compared the challenge of fighting climate change to the fight against the Nazis in World War II. “I would point to the fact that it took Roosevelt many, many years to get America willing to go into World War II and fight the Nazis. Well, we have an enemy — though different, but, perhaps, very much devastating in a similar way. And we’ve got to fight climate change. And the president’s got to lead on that.”

Read: Here’s the good news in that alarming report on climate change

Trump’s own advisers warned in a report released on the Friday after Thanksgiving that, without significant reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, climate change will cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. The report estimated that every one-degree-Celsius increase in global temperatures would result in a loss of about 1.2% of GDP.

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In China, the number 8 is an omen of good luck and prosperity. 2018 was lucky for Chinese IPOs, but not so much for their U.S. investors, who instead found an unlucky 13% decline.

With China representing the largest market in the world, for everything from online education to electric scooters, investors were willing to gamble on Chinese companies in 2018, even as the U.S. and China engaged in a troubling trade war. A total of 33 China-domiciled companies raised $9.167 billion in capital in the U.S. this year, more than double 2017, when 17 Chinese companies raised $3.8 billion, according to Dealogic.

Many of these companies were very lucky, getting access to huge amounts of capital, without being profitable or very friendly to shareholder rights in the U.S. Much like the small internet companies of the dot-com boom era of the 1999-2000 time frame, investors looked to their growth rates and promise of more growth to come. Big losses and no real shareholder rights? Who cares?

Four companies raised in excess of $1 billion in cash in their U.S. debuts: online entertainment service iQiyi Inc.

IQ, -2.21%

; electric car maker NIO Inc.

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dubbed the Tesla of China; Pinduoduo Inc.

PDD, +1.68%

a mobile platform for discounted group buying; and Tencent Music Entertainment Group

TME, -0.67%

the largest streaming music and online karaoke platform in China, controlled by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

0700, +1.29%


While the Chinese companies made out well in their IPOs, the boom did not translate after they went public. Dealogic research indicates that the average performance for the Chinese IPOs was a loss of about 13.1% so far this year, compared with U.S.-based IPOs, which are now down 0.77%, as of Dec. 20. Before the latest market gyrations, U.S. IPOs were up 6.1%, as of Dec. 11.

These high-risk companies are not for everyone. Their corporate structures, in order to list in the U.S., are complex. Known as variable interest entities (VIEs), their structures are confusing org charts of various holding companies or subsidiaries, offshore and onshore, typically with a Cayman Islands entity or holding company at the core, because China does not allow foreign investment in certain strategic businesses, such as internet companies. The bottom line is that shareholders have few rights and can only hope for the stocks to gain to get a return on their investments.

For more: The latest tech bubble is a Chinese import

“You don’t own the assets, you own the economic benefit through management contracts. The vast majority of the assets remain in control of the Chinese nationals,” said Drew Bernstein, co-founder/managing partner of Marcum Bernstein & Pinchuk, an accounting firm that also advises companies looking to go public in the U.S. “From our experience, the type of investor that invests in the Chinese companies is one that’s going to love growth because they love the numbers. They are not investing in dividends. … When you have a population of 1.4 billion, the opportunities are just too great.”

With 2019 around the corner, investors will be presented again with a slew of investment opportunities, and IPOs will be high on the list. In tech, 2019 could be the year that many of the biggest unicorn companies finally go public, when the multibillion-dollar valuation ride hailing companies Lyft Inc. and Uber Technolgies Inc. are the big contenders, after having filed confidentially with U.S. regulators. Other big names could follow suit, with Pinterest now expected to go public in the spring, according to The Wall Street Journal. Palantir Technologies is also said to be weighing going public next year. Both Airbnb Inc. and Slack Technologies are reportedly weighing direct listings in the same vein as Spotify, according to Recode.

Stampede of the ‘decacorns’: Here are the big-name startups preparing for 2019 IPOs

These big-name companies will clearly create more competition for the Chinese deals, but some investors say that there enough appetite for both. In addition, the IPOs of companies like Uber and Lyft will likely inspire their rivals in China, the younger and also private Didi Chuxing and Grab, to take advantage of the U.S. market’s big appetite for Chinese deals.

“If you are a growth investor, looking for a growth asset…this is an asset that could quadruple in value,” said Rohit Kulkarni, managing director and head of research for SharesPost, Inc., a secondary market for privately held shares.

“I doubt many investors were counting on that for Dropbox

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 , Spotify

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  etc.,” noting, for example, that Spotify’s most recent revenue growth had slowed down to 31%. “It’s not the sexy 100% growth that some investors want.”

While a crop of these IPOs were really large deals in the U.S., the majority of them are not faring very well in post-IPO trading. The biggest losers have been smaller companies or those in competitive businesses, such as Qutoutiao Inc.

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 a mobile news aggregator that is focusing on the lower-tier, less affluent cities in China. Its shares are down 74% from its IPO in September, even as revenue grew more than 500% in the third quarter.

Two other stocks that have seen steep declines are Puxin Ltd.

NEW, +3.51%

down nearly 70%, and Sunlands Online Education Group

STG, -5.25%

down 76%. Chinese education company stocks have been hit hard after draft legislation in China caused uncertainties about future merger and acquisitions, a big driver of growth.

So, will U.S. investors decide to continue putting money into these iffy, young Chinese companies, or was 2018 a blip? In 2019, there are some large potential IPOs, including ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co., top news-aggregation app Bytedance and Tik Tok, a hot short-video app that has reportedly been in discussions about going public next year.

Those companies could decide to go public in Asia, though, as Meituan-Dianping

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 and Xiaomi Corp.

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 did last year, both pulling off large IPOs in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has managed to attract more big companies after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

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 started a trend of Chinese companies heading for the U.S. to avoid stricter corporate-governance provisions.

Marijuana IPOs in 2019: These companies could be the next hot pot stocks

“There was this case of sour grapes in terms of how Hong Kong stock exchange lost the world’s largest IPO, Alibaba, because Jack Ma couldn’t give up the dual voting rights,” said Kulkarni, adding that the HKSE changed its rules to attract venture-backed companies with dual-class shares.

Bytedance has been considering going public on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but Kulkarni doesn’t expect the U.S. to lose its current role as a favorite place for Chinese companies to go public however.

“U.S.-listed Chinese unicorns have performed better than the ones in China,” he said.

Considering the overall decline for Chinese stocks after 2018 U.S. IPOs, that is a scary thought. It is going to be a hard to top 2018 in terms of volume of deals and funds raised for Chinese firms, especially if investors take a hard look at early performance, the structure of these companies and the potential for big losses.

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More than a dozen retailers — including major department store chains, mattress sellers and shoe companies — filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018, despite strong consumer spending that otherwise lifted the U.S. economy.

The pace of closures slowed from 2017, when more than 20 retailers including Toys R Us, Hhgregg and Gymboree went bust. But the filings and resulting store closures are still painful for the employees and mall owners who find themselves dealing with the aftermath.

The biggest bankruptcy of 2018 was Sears, a 125-year-old business that was once the largest retailer in the U.S. The department store chain struggled to revive its business as it shut hundreds of stores and sold other assets in an attempt to raise cash. Sears’ fate is still uncertain heading into 2019, as the company’s chairman, Eddie Lampert, is in the process of trying to buy back Sears’ remaining stores and prevent them from going dark altogether. Sears employed roughly 70,000 people in the U.S. when it went bust in October.

For other businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, Sears offers a painful lesson of what can happen to a company when it fails to invest in its stores and website to keep pace with the rest of the industry. Companies like Walmart and Target doubled down on investments in their brick-and-mortar shops and e-commerce operations in 2018 — remodeling stores and adding faster shipping options. They’re expected to have had a strong holiday season as a result.

A list compiled by Moody’s shows retailers at risk of defaulting on loan payments — and therefore who could be forced to file for bankruptcy in the new year — include J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and Toms Shoes. Analysts will be watching these names more closely, in addition to J.C. Penney, which last week saw its shares fall under $1 for the first time. Below is a list of more than a dozen retailers that filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

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Jack Bogle, the founder of index fund giant Vanguard Group, is warning investors to prepare for 2019 by decreasing exposure to stocks and increasing investment in defensive strategies, such as fixed income securities like bonds.

“Trees don’t grow to the sky, and I see clouds on the horizon. I don’t know if and when they’ll arrive. A little extra caution should be the watchword,” Bogle said, speaking in an interview with Barron’s published this weekend. “If you were comfortable at a 70 percent to 30 percent [allocation to stocks and fixed income], under these circumstances you’d like to go back to 60 percent to 40 percent, or something like that.”

Bogle does not believe investors for the long term should try to pull completely out and time the market, which he says is “a really dumb strategy.” Instead, Bogle says it’s time “to really be thinking how much risk you want to have” and make some defensive moves.

“If I had a big liability in a year, I’d get prepared for it right now,” Bogle added.

Even before this quarter’s extreme stock market volatility, Bogle told CNBC in April he’s never seen volatility like this in his 66-year career. The S&P 500 is set to end 2018 down by about 6 percent after a 14 percent drop in the final three months.

Vanguard now has more than $5 trillion under management.

Read the full Barron’s story here.

WATCH: Why you shouldn’t panic when stocks are getting slammed

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The woman chosen to be the English Premier League’s chief executive announced on Sunday night that she would not take up her role next month in an abrupt U-turn more than six weeks after she accepted the post. Susanna Dinnage’s announcement, made via the soccer league, did not offer a reason for her change of heart.

Several club executives who had voted in favor of her appointment said on Sunday that they were blindsided by her decision to reject the job. The Premier League’s hiring committee now “has reconvened its search and is now talking to candidates,” the organization said.

Dinnage’s appointment came at a pivotal moment for the league, which is today the most popular sports product on the planet, with games broadcast in 185 countries every week. A British executive at Discovery Inc.

DISCA, -0.56%

  and global president of Animal Planet, Dinnage was due to succeed the retiring Richard Scudamore in January, becoming the Premier League’s fourth CEO since its creation in 1992 and the first woman to hold the position.

Many owners of the league’s largest clubs were dissatisfied with how the appointment was handled, according to a person with knowledge of their thinking. In fact, the owners had no idea Dinnage was in the running until the day they were asked to vote for her confirmation, because her identity had been kept from them in the name of secrecy. Some of them are now pushing to expedite the process and avoid repeating the kind of search that landed them in this position, said the person.

An expanded version of this report appears on

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The Texas judge who ruled Obamacare unconstitutional earlier this month agreed Sunday to stay his decision from taking effect until it can be appealed.

Federal Judge Reed O’Connor said he didn’t believe 17 state attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, would prevail in their challenge of his blockbuster ruling.

“But because many everyday Americans would otherwise face great uncertainty during the pendency of appeal, the Court finds that the December 14, 2018 Order declaring the Individual Mandate unconstitutional and inseverable should be stayed,” he wrote in the 30-page order.

O’Connor struck down former President Barack Obama’s signature health-insurance law on grounds that it became “invalid” when Congress voted last year to eliminate the tax penalty for anyone without coverage.

The decision came one day before the end of the program’s annual six-week enrollment period.

It threatened to cancel health-insurance coverage for about 20 million Americans, and also end popular provisions that guarantee insurance to people with pre-existing conditions and allow children to remain on their parent’s policies until they turn 26.

In a tweet posted Sunday evening, Becerra vowed to fight to preserve Obamacare.

“A federal court in #Texas granted what we asked for in a Dec. 17 motion but at the end of the day, we’re working to keep #healthcare affordable and accessible to millions of Americans, so we march forward!” he wrote.

This report originally appeared on

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Adding insult to his furloughed employees’ injury, President Donald Trump has ruled out pay raises for almost all federal workers in 2019.

An executive order issued late Friday froze pay at 2018 levels for 1.8 million federal workers, cancelling a 2.1% increase previously expected to take effect in January.

The order won’t affect members of the military, who are receiving a 2.6% bump that Congress passed in August.

The move, which Trump signaled in his budget proposal early this year, came in the midst of the government’s budget impasse — and “poured salt on the wounds of federal employees,” tweeted Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).

This report originally appeared on

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In recent years, Mediterranean and Asia Pacific flavors have become more mainstream, with diners indulging in the Hawaiian dish poke and falafel rice bowls at restaurants like Cava.

However, in 2019 you’ll likely see more of a North African and Middle Eastern influence. Harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, is already enticing diners in 2018.

“These blends offer not just heat, but lots of heady Silk Road flavors,” Michael Whiteman, president of Baum+Whiteman, a restaurant consultancy, told CNBC. The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and West and brought spices from Africa and Asia up to Europe.

Consumers, particularly younger ones, have been more adventurous with their food choices in recent years, opting for experiential occasions and not just traditional fare. This desire for bold, new flavors has given rise to more global ingredients entering the U.S. culinary space.

Keep an eye out for the bold flavors of the Egyptian condiment dukkah, Ethiopian spice mix berbere and North African spice mix ras el hanout as they’ll start to hit menus this year, if they haven’t already.

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Activity inChina’s manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in more than two years in the month of December amid a domestic economic slowdown and Beijing’s ongoing trade dispute with the U.S.

The Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was 49.4 — lower than the 49.9 analysts expected in a Reuters poll. The December reading was the weakest since February 2016, according to Reuters’ record.

That was worse than November’s official manufacturing PMI, which was 50.0. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that signals contraction.

In particular, new export orders contracted for a seventh straight month, with that measure falling to 46.6 from 47.0 in the previous month.

Meanwhile, China’s official non-manufacturing PMI came in at 53.8, which was higher than the reading of 53.4 in November. The services sector accounts for more than half of the Chinese economy.

Economic data from China is being closely watched for signs of damage inflicted by the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.

At the beginning of December, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day ceasefire that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. increase of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal.

On Saturday, Trump said on Twitter that he had a “long and very good call” with Xi and that a possible trade deal between the two countries was progressing well.

Yet beyond the tariffs battle, China’s economy has been facing its own domestic headwinds. Even before the escalation in trade tensions with the U.S. this year, Beijing was already trying to manage a slowdown in its economy after three decades of breakneck growth.

China’s worse-than-expected PMI reading on the last day of 2018 suggests a challenging start to 2019, said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian Economics Research at HSBC.

“China is a good gauge in terms of temperature about what’s going on in the global industrial cycle,” Neumann told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The “PMI numbers out today suggest the economy is still decelerating. That’s going to weigh down not just Chinese GDP growth but really global trade,” Neumann said.

In October, China reported economic growth of 6.5 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2018 — the weakest pace since the first quarter of 2009 as the country’s trade war with the U.S. put pressure on growth. China’s official growth target this year is around 6.5 percent.

The results of another private manufacturing survey focused on small and mid-sized firms will be released on Wednesday: China’s official PMI gauge focuses on large companies and state-owned enterprises, while the private survey by Caixin and IHS Markit focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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