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Five Things - Europe

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Good morning. There's a surprise addition to the race for TikTok, stocks are edging higher and the U.K. plans a back-to-work push. Here's what's moving markets.

Unlikely Pairing

2020 never ceases to amaze us. An unexpected party joined the race for TikTok, as retail giant Walmart Inc. teamed up with Microsoft Corp. in the contest to buy the U.S. assets of the popular video-sharing app. Analysts at UBS say they see the rationale in the move as "lines are blurring" between traditional and digital shopping and social media. Here's more about Walmart's ambitions. 

Futures Firm

European futures are heading higher this morning, though there's a sense that the equity market's good fortune could take a hit if the euro keeps climbing. Investors continue to digest Thursday's comments from Jerome Powell, where the Federal Reserve chairman signaled a more relaxed approach on inflation in an effort to stimulate growth. On Wall Street, fear gauges may be providing fresh reasons for caution on the relentless rally in U.S. stocks, while most chief financial officers reckon equities are too expensive.

Paris Masks

Face masks will become compulsory throughout Paris today, French broadcaster BFM TV reported, citing the city's deputy mayor. The move comes as France attempts to avoid imposing a new lockdown. In Asia, South Korea will impose stronger social distancing regulations in greater Seoul areas as daily virus cases stay near the highest level since March. In the U.S., Abbott Laboratories shares jumped after the firm's 15-minute test that will be priced at just $5 was granted emergency authorization.

Want You Back

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has sent invitations to hundreds of senior staff to return to its London offices in recent weeks. The firm is offering staff incentives such as free food, protective gear and access to on-site nursery, although the return to the office is voluntary, Financial News reported. Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a major drive to persuade Britons to return to their workplaces once schools in England reopen next week, the Daily Telegraph reports. Check out Bloomberg's work-from-home tracker for the finance industry here.

Coming Up…

In breaking news, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to resign due to health reasons, national broadcaster NHK reports, without attribution. NHK says Abe wants to avoid an underlying medical condition disrupting his management of the country's government. Japanese stocks sank and the yen spiked against the dollar. Elsewhere, it's Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey's turn to speak at the virtual Jackson Hole, while the data on our radar include consumer confidence from the Euro area, Germany and Italy. Elsewhere, it's a light earnings schedule, and in sports, cycling's Tour De France starts tomorrow. Finally, if you're in the U.K., enjoy your three-day weekend.

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

While most of the commentary about Jerome Powell's Jackson Hole address focused on inflation, all the Fed Chair has really done is cement the status of Payroll Friday as "the most important day of the month for traders." The emphasis on employment in the Fed's long-term strategy statement was arguably as important as the much-expected shift to an "average" inflation goal. That only managed to trigger a modest rise in inflation expectations -- the 10-year breakeven edged higher by just 2 basis points Thursday to 1.75%. As for employment, a cynic would likely point out that it's just another target the central bank doesn't have the tools to aim at, particularly one as nuanced as a "shortfall" from "maximum employment". But it does mean an even-greater focus from traders on U.S. labor data -- not that they weren't focused already -- and the likelihood of increased volatility around Payrolls Fridays, at least when the U.S. economy "normalizes." Monetary policy ultra-doves have often argued the Fed should change its target to 4% from 2%. It has, but by turning away from inflation toward employment.

Cormac Mullen is a Cross-Asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.

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