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Moderna seeks U.S. and European clearance for its coronavirus vaccine. OPEC+ delays talks. Libor's deadline is set for an extension.

Make Way Moderna

Moderna plans to request clearance for its coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. and Europe on Monday. The primary analysis, which included 196 cases, found the vaccine was 94.1% effective, in line with preliminary findings. All 30 severe cases observed in the study occurred in participants who received a placebo, indicating there's 100% efficacy against severe disease for the shot. A similar vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech was submitted to U.S. regulators last month (and is scheduled to be reviewed ahead of Moderna's shot), but it could take at least three weeks for a decision, making the U.K. look more likely to be the first country to approve it.

Markets Drift

Asian stocks looked set to drift Tuesday after U.S. stocks slipped from record highs as investors weighed the prospects for risk assets after an unprecedented month of gains. The dollar strengthened. Futures pointed lower in Japan and Australia. The S&P 500 dropped the most in more than a week, though still closed out its best month since April. The tech-heavy Nasdaq indexes that trailed in November fared better, touching a record high on Monday, while a gauge of global stocks posted its best month on record. Gold retreated and oil edged lower.

Tense Talks

A meeting of OPEC+ ministers was postponed for two days to give ministers more time to find a consensus after a long, tense meeting broke down without an agreement. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, it will now be held on Dec. 3. The ministers are discussing whether to maintain output cuts for another three months or hike production as planned. The meeting became unusually tense and Saudi Arabia's energy minister, in what appeared to be a gesture of frustration, told others he may resign as co-chair of a key OPEC+ panel. Here's more on how the talks have played out so far.

Libor Timeline

The administrator of the pivotal dollar Libor benchmarks is looking to push back by 18 months the timeline for abandoning some of the discredited interest-rate settings. The ICE Benchmark Administration said it is consulting on plans to extend the retirement date for 3-, 6- and 12-month London interbank offered rates on dollars until late June 2023, although regulators are still pushing for banks to move away from the benchmarks as soon as they can. The announcement follows fierce speculation over a deadline and eurodollar futures trading volumes jumped in its wake. Here's everything you need to know about Libor's end game.

Bitcoin's Back

Bitcoin climbed to a record, rallying as much as 8.7% to $19,857.03 Monday, pushing this year's surge to more than 170%. It traded at a few cents for several years after its late 2008 launch by an unknown software developer in the wake of the global financial crash. Shares of companies with exposure to cryptocurrencies also jumped. The token hit a previous high of $19,511 in December 2017 amid widespread elation, only to lose 70% over the course of the following year.

What We've Been Reading

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

And finally, here's what Tracy's interested in today

In almost any other year, Africa's debt troubles would be getting a lot more attention. But of course, amidst all the economic stress and high-drama politics and human tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic, it feels like the slow-motion debt crisis underway in Africa has largely been overlooked. Last month, Zambia became the first African country to default on its debt this year, missing a $42.5 million interest payment on U.S. dollar bonds and sparking a series of fraught negotiations with its creditors. Zambia famously owes a lot of money to China — it's one of about seven African nations that account for the bulk of China's alleged debt diplomacy on the continent — and the default is now casting more scrutiny on the Middle Kingdom's approach to lending and treatment of its borrowers.

But there was another recent piece of African capital markets news that's arguably received even less attention. Just days after Zambia's missed interest rate payment, Ivory Coast sold $1 billion worth of eurobonds, effectively re-opening the market for sub-Saharan African debt. The deal was five times oversubscribed, which suggests a healthy appetite for the bonds of African nations that are less debt-mired than others, and the willingness of investors to differentiate between the two groups (in return for substantial yield, of course). More bonds are expected to be sold soon. So as bad as Africa's debt distress might be, it's not yet at the point of region-wide transmission.

You can follow Tracy Alloway on Twitter at @tracyalloway.

 

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