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Good morning. Hope for more positive vaccine news and plateauing Covid cases, a possible shakeup in Boris Johnson's inner circle, and OPEC production may stay low for longer. Here's what's moving markets.

Positive Signs

Days after positive results on Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine candidate boosted global equity markets, Moderna is entering the spotlight after accruing enough results to analyze its shot's effectiveness. The U.S. biotech firm said it could hand the data to an independent monitoring committee within days. Its shares closed the day up more than 8%. As the latest Covid wave continues to swell, there are glimmers of hope in some of Europe's worst-hit countries that the disease's surge may be cresting. Over the past week the number of new cases has plateaued or begun to ease in the U.K., Germany and France. Harder-hit small countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have also posted big declines in daily infection rates.

Proven Tools

ECB President Christine Lagarde said policy makers will focus on emergency bond purchases and long-term loans for their next wave of stimulus, effectively ruling out interest-rate cuts as a way to aid the economy. The ECB is widely predicted to increase and extend its 1.35 trillion-euro pandemic bond-buying program at its meeting in December, and many economists also expect it to make changes to its ultra-cheap credit for banks. The euro area's economic outlook has darkened considerably in recent weeks as record-breaking coronavirus cases across the region have forced governments to reintroduce restrictions on activity. 

Tight Taps

OPEC and its allies including Russia are likely to delay an increase to production rates that was set for January, according to several delegates. Less than three weeks before members meet to take a final decision, the alliance is instead increasingly focused on maintaining the current cutbacks into early 2021. On Wednesday, OPEC made another cut to its demand estimate, expecting the pandemic's effect on oil consumption to last into next year even with the announcement of a vaccine breakthrough. Brent crude oil futures are rising for a fourth day, having gained more than 10% this week.

Pep Talks

The U.K. government is intensifying talks with industry as it seeks to avert Brexit disruption at year-end, with companies facing upheaval even if Britain and the EU sign a trade deal. The government has previously expressed concern that many firms have their "heads in the sand" and are ill-prepared for Brexit. Negotiations over a trade agreement -- which would keep tariff-free trade between Britain and the EU, but wouldn't remove the new red tape and obstacles -- are due to be extended beyond this weekend's informal deadline and continue in Brussels next week, according to people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's communications director has resigned, in a move that threatens to destabilize the British leader's powerful inner circle.

Coming Up…

Euro Stoxx 50 futures are pointing to a negative open after a muted session in Asian markets. It's the last really busy day in European third-quarter earnings, with highlights including Siemens, Burberry, Deutsche Telekom and Merck KGaA. U.K. industrial production, trade data and third-quarter GDP are also due in the morning. In the afternoon, get ready for weekly U.S. jobless claims.

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

Though the most scrutinized Twitter feed in finance is on track to lose much of its power on Jan. 20, that still leaves about 10 weeks for President Donald Trump to roil markets. Assuming President-elect Joe Biden's win is certified, Trump will enter the so-called lame duck phase of his presidency with a formidable capacity for disruption. Disputes with China, a trade spat with Europe, and December's deadline on U.S. government funding all offer the potential for market-moving activity. Investors only have to go back to October to see how a barrage of unilateral presidential action can shake markets. U.S. stocks slid and Treasuries surged after Trump tweeted that he had decided to halt stimulus talks. Pricing in futures markets -- where January contracts on the Cboe Volatility Index are trading above both December and February levels -- suggests traders are braced for the possibility of turbulence. Trade with China is the most obviously vulnerable area, not least because Trump blames the country for the coronavirus outbreak. Asia investors spent much of 2018 anxiously awaiting pronouncements from the president on trade. The forced de-listing of Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges is another potential market-moving step to target Beijing -- one that has been mulled by the administration for some time. Meanwhile, the European Union's imposition of tariffs on $4 billion of U.S. goods that started Tuesday is an escalation of a dispute over illegal aid to aircraft manufacturers Boeing Co. and Airbus SE, and has the potential to spark a retaliation that would impact the region's markets.

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

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