Good News on Vaccines, Europe PMIs, Mideast Meeting - What's up in Markets

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Good News on Vaccines, Europe PMIs, Mideast Meeting - What's up in Markets

By Geoffrey Smith -- The dollar weakens and risk assets got a boost after more positive vaccine news, this time from AstraZeneca. A federal judge in Pennsylvania has thrown out a lawsuit aimed at overturning the result of the U.S. presidential election. U.S. stock markets are set for a higher open, but in Europe PMI data painted a weak picture of the economy even as some countries move to relax restrictions.  Meanwhile, oil prices have hit their highest level since August. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Monday, November 23rd.

1. Dollar slides as vaccine news boosts optimism

The dollar fell and risk assets rose around the globe on more positive news about the development of vaccines to treat Covid-19. 

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN ) said its drug, developed with the University of Oxford, had proved up to 90% effective in a large-scale trial. It will now “immediately prepare regulatory submission of the data to authorities around the world that have a framework in place for conditional or early approval.”

The Astra-Oxford drug accounts for 40% of all agreed Covid-19 vaccine sales agreed so far to lower- and middle-income countries, according to Bloomberg, hence a positive reaction in many emerging market currencies in early trade on Monday. The South African rand , the Russian ruble and Mexican peso all gained 0.5% or more.

Elsewhere over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to Regeneron’s experimental Covid-19 drug.

2. Pennsylvania throws out Trump suit

A federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump’s lawyers that aimed to overturn the result of the election, removing the last major obstacle to Joe Biden being declared the official victor.

Judge Matthew Brann ruled that the Trump team had presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.”

Trump, who skipped a G20 meeting of world leaders on the global pandemic response to go golfing, at the weekend, was still repeating the essence of those arguments in tweets late on Sunday.

President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly due to start naming appointees to key administration positions this week, with reports suggesting that he will tap Anthony Blinken to be Secretary of State. Blinken had served as deputy SoS between 2015-2016.

3. Stocks set to open higher

U.S. stock markets are set to open higher amid the prospect of an end in sight to uncertainty over the election and the incremental good news on the vaccine front.

By 06.18 AM ET (1118 GMT), Dow 30 futures were up 200 points, or 0.7%, while S&P 500 futures were up 0.6% and Nasdaq futures were up 0.3%.

Stocks likely to be in focus later include casino stocks, after Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak cut the maximum capacity utilization at casinos in the state to 25% from 50% in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Also in focus could be cruise lines, after the Center for Disease Control raised its warnings against cruises to the highest on its scale.

4. France, U.K. start to relax lockdowns as PMIs fall

Europe’s economy contracted in November for the first time in five months under the pressure of lockdown restrictions.

Preliminary purchasing managers indices from IHSMarkit presented a broadly weak picture, with the composite Eurozone PMI falling to 46.1 from 50.0 in October. French manufacturing and German services both fell by more than expected.

In more positive news, France announced it would reopen non-essential stores ahead of Christmas in response to a sharp drop in new infections of Covid-19, while the U.K. is likewise expected to announce later Monday that some lockdown measures will be relaxed as of December 1.

5 Oil rises as Yemeni rebels claim Saudi strike

Crude oil prices hit their highest level since August overnight, after reports of a military strike by Yemeni Houthi rebels against a Saudi Arabian oil storage and distribution center.

Saudi Aramco (SE: 2222 ), the facility’s owner, has not confirmed any attack, which is an echo of a more serious attack on its facilities last year.

The strike coincided with the news that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, the first known meeting between Saudi and Israeli heads of government.

By 0618 AM ET, U.S. crude futures were up 0.4% at $42.82 a barrel, while Brent crude futures were up 0.5% at $45.59 a barrel

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