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Five Things - Europe
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Good morning. Europe laments its new lockdowns, earnings from big tech companies disappoint investors and the ECB lays out its message. Here's what's moving markets.

Lockdowns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told European leaders that they should have acted earlier to control Covid-19 as countries put lockdowns back in place and the economic costs mount. That puts the focus back on those countries that have yet to reimpose national shutdowns. The U.K. government is facing growing calls to make such a move, as it continues its strategy of placing individual regions under stricter measures, a plan JPMorgan says will have only a minor impact on the economy. The signs in the U.S. are ominous. The surge in cases in the Midwest has continued, with highs in Illinois and Iowa, and New Jersey has seen a spike in hospitalizations.

Tech Disappoints

In terms of market value, earnings days don't get much bigger than Thursday and the gaggle of tech giants that reported have raised concern about the outlook for the sector. Apple fell in extended trading after iPhone sales missed estimates and social media group Facebook, despite posting a huge beat, slipped after it flagged uncertainty ahead. Amazon.com also projected a big rise in sales but said higher expenses due to Covid-19 will weigh on profit. The bright spot that did get rewarded was Google owner Alphabet, which jumped in after-hours trading after it flagged a rebound in advertising spending.

ECB's Message

The European Central Bank delivered the message markets were expecting at its meeting on Thursday: It stands ready to act in December. President Christine Lagarde said there is "little doubt" that the bank will agree on a new set of stimulus measures as rising Covid-19 infections and renewed lockdowns threaten another major hit to Europe's economy. A few policymakers are set to speak on Friday and, as far away as December may be, that will be pored over for hints on what action the ECB will take. Hanging over this is a renewed push, driven by the pandemic, to weaken the world's fixation with GDP as a measure of economic welfare.

Election

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it may be possible to strike a deal on a stimulus package after the election but prior to the start of the new congressional and White House terms in January. That will allow the focus to move squarely onto Tuesday's election. Democrats are dreaming of the possibility of flipping Texas, optimistic about the surge in early voting in the state, but some long-serving House Democrats are facing surprise battles to keep their seats. The weekend also offers the opportunity to study up on split Supreme Court decisions on mail ballots, and to learn election day vocabulary like naked ballots and safe-harbor deadlines.

Coming Up…

European stock-index futures are trending lower going into Friday, following U.S. futures lower as the tech disappointments hit sentiment. Asian stocks also declined and the dollar gave back some of the gains made in the previous session. It's another relatively busy earnings day in Europe, topped by French oil major Total, Danish insulin-maker Novo Nordisk and commodities giant Glencore. We'll also have GDP, inflation and unemployment data for the euro area.

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

With Treasuries, the yen and gold failing to live up to their usual haven potential, it seems the traditional risk-on vehicle of choice — emerging-market stocks — has stepped in to take up the mantle. A benchmark of developing-nation shares has leaped higher as equity markets from Europe to the U.S. reel from the resurgent coronavirus and pre-election jitters. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is up about 3.5% this month, compared with a 1.4% slump in the MSCI All-Country World Index and has broken out of a 2 1/2-year relative downtrend. The gauge has outperformed the S&P 500 Index during the three major global risk asset selloffs of the last five months by an average of 6%, according to Goldman Sachs. A growing number of investors are warming to developing-nation stocks as the global economy recovers from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. The rapid recovery seen in China and the weaker dollar have also encouraged the bulls. The defensive qualities of EM shares are not likely to last if the global recovery proves an illusion, but the recent outperformance suggests they are the right asset class to have in your portfolio for those who see brighter days for the world economy next year.

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

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