1. U.S. Stock Futures Rise

U.S. equity futures and European stocks rose on signs that scientists are making fast progress toward a vaccine. Bitcoin surged past $18,000 for the first time since December 2017. Pfizer gained 2.8% in pre-market trading after saying that its Covid-19 vaccine was 95% effective with no significant safety problems so far. The news paves the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot within days. Boeing added 6.7% as the Federal Aviation Administration ruled that the 737 Max will be cleared to fly after extensive fixes.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 lags behind. Equity indexes were green across Europe in a broad-based advance.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index gained 0.3% as of early morning New York time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.4%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.2%.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index climbed 0.7%.

2. Pfizer, BioNTech Plan Filing as Vaccine Proves 95% Effective

Pfizer said a final analysis of clinical-trial data showed its Covid-19 vaccine was 95% effective, paving the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot within days. The U.S. drugmaker and partner BioNTech SE said their vaccine protected people of all ages and ethnicities, with no significant safety problems so far in a trial that includes almost 44,000 participants. The update is the latest in a string of promising developments on the vaccine front in recent days. 

3. Boeing Max Cleared to Fly as FAA Lifts Long U.S. Grounding

Boeing’s 737 Max can safely return to the skies with an extensive package of fixes, U.S. regulators ruled, after a scarring 20-month grounding prompted by a pair of fatal crashes. The actions, announced Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration, mark the end to the longest grounding of a jetliner in U.S. history and set the stage for airlines and other regulators around the world to resume passenger service with the plane. Boeing shares jumped 6.6%. They had lost 50% of their value since the March 10, 2019 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Group flight that triggered the global grounding of the 737 Max.

4. Morgan Stanley Is Bullish on Tesla for First Time Since 2017

Morgan Stanley gave Tesla Inc. an overweight rating for the first time in more than three years, predicting that Elon Musk’s firm is on the verge of a “profound model shift” from selling cars to generating high-margin software and services revenue. The valuation now includes Tesla’s network services, energy storage and insurance businesses. The internet-of-cars opportunity is also real, and a prerequisite to unlock further gains for the stock, analysts wrote.

5. Tencent to Invest in Online Education Startup Udemy

Chinese technology company Tencent is a lead investor in a funding round that valued the online education startup Udemy at more than $3 billion. Investors were also told by Udemy that the company could pursue an IPO next year. Udemy said Wednesday that it has raised $50 million in a round valuing the company at $3.25 billion before the new investments.  Beyond its core gaming and social media empire, Tencent invests in China and increasingly outside it, grooming upstarts in everything from supplying fresh vegetables to building electric vehicles.

6. Apple to Cut App Store Fees in Half for Most Developers

Apple is cutting by half the fees charged to most developers who sell software and services on the App Store, marking the biggest change to the store’s revenue structure since the iPhone maker launched the service in 2008. The company is lowering the App Store fee to 15% from 30% for developers who produce as much as $1 million in annual revenue from their apps and those who are new to the store. The change will go into effect Jan. 1 as part of an App Store Small Business Program, Apple said Wednesday. The tech giant said it’s making the change to help small developers financially and to provide a way for them to invest in their businesses amid the economic struggles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

7. Bitcoin is back and it just soared past $18,000

Bitcoin reached $18,000 (INR 13.36 lakh) for the first time since just after the burst of the cryptocurrency bubble almost three years ago. The largest digital coin, which has more than doubled this year, surged as much as 6.2% on Tuesday in New York trading. From an all-time high in December 2017 of nearly $20,000, Bitcoin tumbled to as low as $3,136 (INR 2.32 lakh) within a year. Its gains this year follow a wider embrace from Wall Street linchpins, including Fidelity Investments, which launched a Bitcoin fund over the summer. PayPal said in October it would allow customers to access cryptocurrencies, which spurred bets more people could start to use digital tokens.

8. China to overtake 56 nations by 2025 in per capita income surge

The Asian powerhouse is forecast to have per capita gross domestic product, adjusted for purchasing power, equal to $25,307 (INR 18.78 lakh) in 2025. China’s surging economy is set to overtake 56 countries in the world’s per-capita income rankings during the quarter-century through 2025, the International Monetary Fund projects. By that date, China will rank 70th in the world on the metric, putting it close to joining the richest one-third of nations, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg from last month’s IMF World Economic Outlook.

9. Merkel Under Fire as Virus Strategy Sparks Anger From All Sides

Chancellor Angela Merkel came under pressure as a protest over her strategy to quell the coronavirus turned violent and a close ally issued a public rebuke. Berlin police used water cannons to break up a large demonstration near Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday. Participants — which totaled 14,000 people, according to police — refused to abide by distancing and hygiene rules, while some threw bottles and other objects. Pressure has been growing on German authorities, which are facing a crunch meeting next week to lay out a long-term plan to fight the pandemic. With restrictions likely to be extended and intensified, public anger and political tensions are rising.

10. Nissan’s Britain business tough to sustain without Brexit trade deal

Any final exit by Britain from the European Union that worsens business conditions through increased tariffs would threaten the sustainability of Nissan Motor Co’s UK operations, the Japanese car maker’s chief operating officer cautioned. Nissan, which employs 7,000 people at Britain’s biggest auto plant in the northeastern city of Sunderland called in June for an “orderly balanced Brexit”. But the latest warning comes as the EU cautions Britain it has fewer than 10 days left to secure a deal governing trade from next year.