Global markets up…PSA Peugeot/Fiat Chrysler vote
BEIJING (AP) – Global stock markets and U.S. futures rose today on 2021’s first trading day, boosted by optimism about coronavirus vaccines after Wall Street ended the year on a new high. London and Frankfurt opened higher while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo declined. On Wall Street, S&P and Dow futures are both 0.4% higher.
LONDON (AP) – Britain has taken another giant step in the fight against COVID-19, ramping up its immunization program by giving out the first shots in the world from the vaccine created by Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Britain has already been giving out vaccine shots made by Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech since Dec. 8. Officials say the U.K. has around 530,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and seeks to vaccinate 2 million people a week as soon as possible.
MILAN (AP) – Shareholders vote today on a deal to create the world’s fourth-largest carmaker. The marriage of PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is built on the promise of cost savings in the capital-hungry industry. But what remains to be seen is if the long-sought tie-up will be able to preserve jobs and heritage brands in a global market still suffering the shakeout from the pandemic. The new company is to be called Stellantis, with the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan.
BEIIIIJING (AP) – Two surveys show China’s manufacturing activity improved in December but at its weakest rate in three months as the economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic while its trading partners struggled with rising infections. A monthly purchasing managers’ index issued by a business magazine, Caixin, slipped to 53 from November’s 54.9 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. A separate PMI by an official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, declined to 51.9 from the previous month’s 52.1. China is the only major economy on track to record positive economic growth in 2020 while the United States and Europe struggle with rising case numbers.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – An Iranian government spokesman says Tehran has begun enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility. The state-run IRNA news agency quotes the spokesman as saying that President Hassan Rouhani had given the order for the move at the Fordo facility. Enrichment at 20% is a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran’s decision to begin enriching to 20% a decade ago nearly brought an Israeli strike targeting its nuclear facilities, tensions that only abated with the 2015 atomic deal. A resumption of 20% enrichment could see that brinksmanship return.