Good morning. Hard weeks in England, OPEC+ hits obstacles and NYSE changes its mind. Here’s what’s moving markets.
England entered its third full lockdown, shutting schools and ordering the public to stay at home as medical officials warn that the National Health Service could be overwhelmed within three weeks. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of hard weeks ahead as he announced a plan to vaccinate 13.9 million people at highest risk from the virus by mid-February, before restrictions can beeased again. The U.K. reported its biggest-ever daily increase in cases on Monday. Meanwhile, the EU’s drug regulator said a decision on Moderna’s vaccine could come as soon as this Wednesday, giving the bloc a second option as it rushes to immunize its population.
Overnight, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Swiss cement giant Lafarge Holcim isin advanced talks to buy Firestone Building Products. The roofing system maker, a unit of Japan’s Bridgestone, is expected to fetch more than $2.5 billion. Lafarge Holcim declined to comment, and Bridgestone said it’s exploring opportunities to unlock value. Also overnight, Britain’s Entain rebuffed a takeover offer worth $11 billion from MGM, which the owner of gambling brands including Ladbrokes and Bwin says undervalues the company amid a surge in online betting. Entain shares closed at 1,420 pence on Monday, well above MGM’s implied valuation of 1,383 pence per share.
OPEC+ talks were unexpectedly suspended on Monday after a majority of members, including Saudi Arabia, opposed Russia’s proposal for a February supply hike. Discussions will resume this afternoon, giving the group more time to resolve differences over how much extra oil the market can take as the accelerating coronavirus pandemic threatens a wave of tighter lockdowns. The extension of talks casts doubt on the production increase of 500,000 barrels a day the market had been expecting for February. It also calls into question similar supply boosts traders had penciled in for March and April. It is rare for OPEC and Russia to finish a meeting without consensus, but it can have damaging consequences when it does happen, notably last year’s month-long price war.
The New York Stock Exchange said it willno longer delist China’s three biggest state-owned telecom firms, backtracking on a plan that had threatened to escalate tensions between the world’s largest economies. This comes just days after the exchange said it would remove shares of China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom to comply with a U.S. executive order that imposed restrictions on companies identified as affiliated with the Chinese military. A lack of clarity on why the NYSE changed course left investors to speculate over whether it was simply a result of the exchange initially misinterpreting the executive order or something with broader geopolitical implications.
U.K. grocer Wm Morrison is scheduled to release its Christmas trading statement and apparel retailer Next is set to post a fourth-quarter trading update. Germany’s Angela Merkel will speak to the country’s regional premiers to discuss an extension of lockdowns. Shareholders of travel group Tui are to decide whether to accept a 500-million-euro capital increase as part of the pandemic-battered company’s third rescue package. On the macro front, unemployment data is due for Germany and Spain, while Germany’s automotive watchdog will release figures on new car registrations.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
And finally, here’s what Gregor Stuart Hunter is interested in this morning
So much for a fresh New Year start. The S&P 500 index’s Monday slump was its worst start to a year since 2016. The VIX Index — a gauge of implied volatility for the U.S. equity benchmark — jumped the most since October. The moves provide a reminder that while stocks mostly go up, they do sometimes tumble as well. Among the risk factors are a renewed bout of Covid-19 cases forcing fresh restrictions in England and elsewhere, this week’s run-off election for two Senate seats in Georgia and the last gasps of the Trump administration’s trade war with China. Still, it’s important to put Monday’s tumble into some perspective. Asian stocks largely shrugged off the U.S. slide, markets continue to be coddled by huge amounts of stimulus and the odds favor a global economic recovery this year. It’s far too soon to write off all of 2021 yet.