1. Stocks Bounce Back With U.S. Futures; Dollar Slips

Global stocks and U.S. futures are starting December on a bullish note with a rebound from Monday’s retreat. Cyclical shares led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index higher as banks, miners and energy firms climbed. U.K. stocks were up almost 2% after Goldman Sachs strategists called them a buy ahead of a Brexit trade deal. The risk-on mood carried across other markets. Bitcoin is approaching $20,000 and futures on the Russell 2000 Index of small-cap stocks outperformed the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index. The dollar weakened against most of its major peers.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index increased 0.8% as of morning London time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.9%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1%.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index rose 1.2%.

2. Pfizer, BioNTech Seek EU Clearance for Covid-19 Vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech sought regulatory clearance for their Covid-19 vaccine in the European Union, putting the shot on track for potential approval there before the end of the year. The European Medicines Agency said it could issue an opinion within weeks, with a meeting on the assessment scheduled for Dec. 29 at the latest. Submitted on Monday, the formal application caps a rolling review process that started on Oct. 6 and allowed Europe’s drugs regulator to examine data on the vaccine as it emerged. Governments around the world are eager to start vaccinating their populations to curb the pandemic. Rival Moderna requested clearance in the U.S. and Europe on Monday. The U.K. invoked a special rule to allow its regulator to bypass its EU counterpart and maybe the first to sign off on the Pfizer-BioNTech product. The U.S. isn’t far behind, with a Food and Drug Administration panel set to meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the vaccine.

3. Exxon Faces Historic Writedown After Energy Markets Implode

Exxon Mobil is about to incur the biggest writedown in its modern history as the giant U.S. oil and gas producer reels from this year’s collapse in energy prices. Exxon — traditionally far more reluctant to cut the book value of its business than other oil majors — on Monday disclosed it will write down North and South American natural gas fields by $17 billion to $20 billion. That could make it the industry’s steepest impairment since BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill that killed 11 workers and fouled the sea for months. Meanwhile, capital spending will be drastically reduced through 2025. The announcement comes in the waning days of a gruelling year for Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods, who’s resorted to laying off thousands of employees, curtailing retirement benefits and cancelling ambitious growth projects. 

4. Two U.K. Retail Collapses Threaten 25,000 Jobs in 24 Hours

The U.K. retail industry suffered one of the harshest blows yet after two of the country’s best-known retailers collapsed, putting 25,000 jobs at risk in less than 24 hours. Debenhams said Tuesday morning it’s preparing to close its doors for good after failing to find a buyer. Late Monday, Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, which owns brands including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, began insolvency proceedings. Both retailers have anchored malls and main streets across Britain for decades and operate about 600 stores combined. U.K. retailers have suffered a double whammy: the pandemic hit as many were struggling to adjust to online competition. The industry is set to lose 235,000 retail jobs this year, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

5. European Central Bank Warns Against Hopes for Blockbuster Stimulus

The European Central Bank should focus on keeping financial conditions at current levels through the crisis rather than announcing a blockbuster stimulus package that beats market expectations, according to Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel. Just over a week before the ECB Governing Council’s policy decision, Schnabel confirmed that more support is likely because the pandemic will be more protracted than expected. But she also noted that borrowing costs have dropped to record lows because of monetary and fiscal aid, and what is most important is sustaining that state of affairs until the crisis is past.

6. Pound Rises as Traders Bet on Brexit Breakthrough Within Days

The pound advanced to the highest level in three months as anticipation grew that the U.K. and European Union may strike a trade deal soon. Pound sterling rose as much as 0.6%, sending the currency above September-highs. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told the Irish Times he’s hopeful for a Brexit deal by the end of the week, echoing similar comments by French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune. With time running short to ratify any agreement before the transition period ends on Dec. 31, momentum is building for a pact. It was spurred by relief the U.K. and EU seemed willing to negotiate a deal and on optimism over the developments of several Covid-19 vaccinations.

7. Xiaomi Seeks Up to $4 Billion in Shares, Convertible Bonds

China’s No. 2 smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. is seeking to raise as much as $4 billion from a combined share placement and sale of convertible bonds, adding to a war chest aimed at expanding its market share from competitor Huawei. Xiaomi is selling 100 crore shares in a top-up placement to raise as much as $3.2 billion. Xiaomi is also seeking $855 million through a seven-year, zero-coupon convertible bond. Xiaomi shares had been on a rally this year, rising 146% from a year ago. However, its stock slipped after it disclosed that its internet services revenue had grown at its slowest pace in three years in the September quarter. It grabbed market share from Huawei when American sanctions deepened particularly in overseas markets from Europe to India.

8. OPEC+ Talks Delayed as Split Deepens Between Key Gulf Allies

OPEC+ talks were delayed for two days to give ministers more time to reach a deal, after a long and tense meeting on oil production broke down without an agreement. The move was the most dramatic sign yet of the deep division inside the cartel after hours of talks on Monday yielded no result. Oil prices, which have rallied on vaccine hopes as well as expectations that OPEC will maintain its current output curbs, slipped on the news. OPEC ministers met on Monday and had been scheduled to talk to their non-OPEC partners on Tuesday. At one point, there had appeared to be a consensus building between ministers yesterday, but the meeting then became unusually fraught. The run-up to the meeting saw new cracks emerge in the relationship between the United Arab Emirates — a core part of the group — and other members. The UAE’s national long-term strategy to crank up production is clashing with the cartel’s current restrictions.

9. Oyo Has $1 Billion to Fund Operations Until IPO, CEO Tells Employees

Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO of Oyo Hotels, told employees the Indian startup is making progress in recovering from the coronavirus fallout and has about $1 billion (INR 7500 cr) to fund operations until an IPO. The 27-year-old entrepreneur made the comments in a fireside chat with Oyo board member Troy Alstead, after the once high-flying company endured months of layoffs and losses as Covid-19 hammered its business. Oyo is one of the largest startups in the portfolio of SoftBank Group, reaching a valuation of $10 billion (INR 75,000 cr) before the downturn. Agarwal said the company’s focus is on getting revenue per available room to 60% to 80% of pre-pandemic levels across all markets. India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia are making progress in reaching that range, he added.

10. Wendy’s to Open 250 Cloud Kitchens in India as Virus Hits

Wendy’s has struck a deal with India’s Rebel Foods to open about 250 cloud kitchens across the country, one of the most ambitious efforts yet to serve customers through delivery rather than the traditional fast-food stores as the industry adapts to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. company is experimenting with a new format as the Covid-19 outbreak makes many consumers unwilling or unable to visit traditional stores. Cloud kitchens, which derive their name from cloud computing, are remote facilities without seating or cashiers that prepare food exclusively for delivery. Wendy’s, with nine brick-and-mortar outlets in India, said it believes its cloud kitchen alliance is the largest yet in the industry. Rebel Foods, backed by Sequoia Capital and Goldman Sachs Group is the world’s largest cloud-kitchen operator with more than 300 locations.

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