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Good morning. Gold extended its rally, the aviation sector is shedding more jobs and there was a fresh warning over U.S. Covid-19 infections. Here's what's moving markets.

Going For Gold

Gold's rally continued Tuesday with futures briefly rising above $1,800 an ounce for the first time in more than eight years. Demand for the traditional haven has been boosted by investor concern over recent upticks in coronavirus cases in some regions and a need for inflation hedges due to expansionary policy tools implemented by central banks worldwide. Goldman Sachs last month lifted its target to $2,000 an ounce, saying a weaker dollar will give consumers of the precious metal in emerging markets more purchasing power. After rounding off its best quarter in four years, spot gold edged higher early Wednesday amid mixed trading for Asian stocks and European and U.S. equity futures.

Aviation Job Cuts

Job losses in the aviation sector provide us with the latest gauge on the state of international travel, with EasyJet Plc announcing it's considering cutting a third of its pilot positions and the elimination of three bases in the U.K., including at London's Stansted airport. Europe's second-largest budget airline said it's begun a formal consultation with unions, which separately put the number of jobs at stake at 727 pilots. That followed news that Airbus SE is embarking on the most extensive restructuring in the planemaker's history, aiming to shed 15,000 civil-aerospace positions worldwide. The group says its output will be 40% lower than expected for two years. Among near-term headwinds for the sector is a European Union travel ban for U.S. residents that was extended on Tuesday, as expected.

Fauci's Warning

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease specialist, warned lawmakers that coronavirus infections in the U.S. could rise to 100,000 a day, up from the current level of about 40,000, if behaviors don't change. As a number of states rein in reopening plans, Fauci highlighted scenes at bars with drinkers standing shoulder to shoulder. The U.S. surgeon general, meanwhile, urged people to "please, please, please wear a face covering." President Trump said on Twitter that he's becoming "more and more angry at China" over the virus. Back in this region, there was promising news in one hotspot, the U.K., as weekly deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales fell to their lowest in 12 weeks.

Merkel's Tough Finale

Germany takes over the European Union's rotating six-month presidency today, meaning Angela Merkel's final act as German chancellor may be her toughest performance yet. Among the tasks at hand, she'll play a key role in any passing of the trading bloc's coronavirus stimulus package that would see the EU issue as much as 750 billion euros ($841 billion) in joint debt. And if that wasn't enough to handle alone, there's also Brexit to think about: While the EU presidency doesn't have a huge impact on negotiations, Merkel will want to make sure that any pact made won't undermine the single market. Meanwhile, all of that's on top of an expected trade escalation with the U.S. that could involve new tariffs on billions of dollars of EU exports. "We're aware that Germany's presidency comes with great expectations," Merkel said.

Coming Up…

U.K. grocer Sainsbury Plc provides a sales update, while U.S. courier FedEx Corp. beat analyst expectations for quarterly earnings following a surge in residential deliveries during lockdown. In data, we'll get a final reading of the June manufacturing purchasing managers index from the euro area and ADP employment and ISM manufacturing numbers from the U.S. For central banks, Sweden is expected to leave its main rate at 0.00% and Bank of England policy maker Jonathan Haskel speaks. Tonight's Federal Reserve meeting minutes, meanwhile, may indicate how close the U.S. central bank is to implementing yield-curve control. Finally, the head of Germany's financial regulator is due to testify on the accounting scandal at payment-processing firm Wirecard AG amid reports some staff haven't received their wages.

What We've Been Reading

This is what's caught our eye over the past 24 hours. 

And finally, here's what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning

Global consumer staples stocks seem to be rapidly losing their relative appeal with investors. The premium the group of household product, packaged foods and retail companies has traded at over the last decade is close to disappearing, according to 12-month forward earnings estimates for MSCI indexes compiled by Bloomberg. The drop is not because the defensive shares have gotten any cheaper but mostly due to the rest of the market getting more expensive as investors pay increasingly higher multiples for stocks seen as more geared toward an economic recovery. The global staples gauge is trading at 19.7 times forward earnings, roughly around its five-year average and about where it started the year. The MSCI AC World Index is on 19.1 times, up from 16.3 times on Jan. 1. On an absolute basis, it's hard to make a case for the defensive staples basket. But fund managers looking for a relative trade as the clouds around the economy continue to swirl could do worse than run the rule over staples shares.

Cormac Mullen is a cross-asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.

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