Good morning. It’s Friday, December 2nd.
December is settling in, the festive season is starting, and it’s like royal couples’ festivities of cute moves out there. Just as Britain’s Prince William and Princess Kate are on a mission to hand out the Earthshot Prize for environmentalism, Netflix announced a new documentary named "Harry & Meghan", which promises to tell us "what’s happening behind the closed doors" from the ex-royal couple’s perspective. Staying relevant seems like a lot of effort for everyone.
- As we are all exposed to our (and everybody else’s) favorite songs of 2022 at the moment, here is a global list of top artists of the year to get you hyped up for the weekend.
—Özlem, with Tanem and Can
• The downturn in eurozone manufacturing eased slightly in November, a survey by S&P Global showed on Thursday, as rates of decline in output and new orders slowed compared with the nearly two-and-a-half-year records seen in October. The final Manufacturing PMI for the single currency bloc rose to 47.1 from 46.4 in October but remained below the 50-line separating growth from contraction.
- Germany: The manufacturing sector in Europe’s largest economy remained in contraction in November but firms were less pessimistic about the outlook as material shortages and input cost inflation eased. The final Manufacturing PMI registered 46.2 in November, up from the prior month’s reading of 45.1.
- The UK: British factory output contracted for the fifth consecutive month in November as demand weakened in both domestic and overseas markets while production of intermediate goods fared especially poorly. The final Manufacturing PMI edged up to 46.5 from 46.2 in October.
- The US: American manufacturing business activity contracted in November for the first time since June 2020 as operating conditions deteriorated modestly overall. The final Manufacturing PMI posted 47.7, down from 50.4 in October but broadly in line with the previously released flash estimate of 47.6.
• The eurozone’s unemployment rate edged down to a record low in October, according to figures from Eurostat released on Thursday, showing that the labor market remains resilient despite the slowing economy. The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the bloc registered at 6.5%, down from 6.6% in the month prior and 7.3% from a year ago.
- Zoom in: Across the EU, the rate was 6.0%, down on both September’s 6.1% and the previous year’s 6.6%. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Germany held steady month-on-month at 3.0%. In Spain, it eased to 12.5% from 12.7% in September, while in Italy the rate dipped to 7.8% from 7.9% a month earlier. The rate was unchanged in France at 7.1%.
• German retail sales fell 2.8% month-on-month and 5% from a year ago in October, according to data released by the Federal Statistics Office on Thursday, well below an analyst forecast of a 2.8% annual and 0.6% monthly decline. Compared with the all-year high of March 2022, retail turnover declined by 6.2% in October 2022 but was 1.8% higher than in the pre-pandemic month of October 2019.
• UK house prices fell 1.4% month-on-month in November, its fastest pace of decline since the financial crisis in 2008 —excluding the lockdown period of spring 2020— and following a 0.9% drop in the previous month, as rising borrowing costs hit household finances, according to mortgage provider Nationwide.
• Japan’s consumer confidence index declined to 28.6 in November from 29.9 a month ago, its lowest level since June 2020, amid soaring prices and mounting global headwinds.
• Credit Suisse is facing its longest streak of share losses ever. The share prices dropped by 5.49% to a record low of 2.67 Swiss francs (€2.71), bringing the stock closer to 2.52 francs (€2.56), which is what the bank is offering to investors in a capital raise. If the lender’s shares remain above that price, until Dec. 6, the last day of rights trading, the capital raise will be successful, analysts said.
• HSBC’s chief executive Noel Quinn denied that Ping An’s pressure on the bank to sell its Asian business is coming from the Chinese government. Ping An, the second biggest investor of the bank, has been insisting that HSBC should sell its businesses in Asia due to poor performance. Speculators suggest that this demand stems from Beijing’s efforts to increase control over Hong Kong’s financial system, as HSBC has a dominant position in the city.
• Russia’s Lukoil continues negotiations with Crossbridge Energy Partners on a buyout of its Sicily refinery. The talks started earlier this year and paused in October. A deal between Lukoil and the US private equity group would value the refinery at €1-1.5 billion, but the buyer has to assure Italy that it will not cut jobs or harm the region with a restructuring.
• Ford will fund its Halewood plant in Liverpool to boost the production of electric vehicle parts. The £150 million (€175.2mn) investment will ensure that more than two-thirds of Ford’s EVs in Europe will use parts produced in Halewood. The US company last year invested £230 million (€268.6mn) to support the plant as it prepares to sell only EVs in the UK and Europe by 2030.
• Ukraine's military said Russia withdrew some of its troops from towns on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River from Kherson, with no mention of any Ukrainian forces crossing the river. Officials also said Russia had intensified bombardment across the river, knocking out power in Kherson once again just as electricity had only begun to be restored after Russia's withdrawal.
- Meanwhile: Russia has expanded its 2012 law that required politically active organizations that receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents," which now includes those who have "received support and/or is under foreign influence," in a show of further cracking down on free speech and opposition.
- In other news: China's President Xi Jinping urged diplomatic negotiations to solve the Ukraine crisis, adding that any escalation or expansion of the crisis should be avoided. However, Xi still refuses to condemn Russia's invasion and criticizes sanctions against Moscow.
• A letter bomb was detonated by police at the US Embassy in Madrid, Spanish officials said, the sixth explosive package that was sent to high-profile targets in Spain after another one injured a Ukrainian Embassy employee the day before. Spain's defense minister Margarita Robles, who was visiting Ukraine's port city of Odesa, said the letter bombs would not deter Spain from supporting Ukraine.
- What happened? The letter bomb attacks began with a package sent to PM Pedro Sanchez on Nov. 24, and since then similar packages have been sent to the defense ministry, an air force base, a weapons manufacturer, and the Ukrainian embassy.
• China eased Covid-19 curbs even further in more cities, with some major cities announcing to ease testing requirements and controls on movement, as markets and bus services reopened.
• India officially stepped into its new role as G-20 chair for 2023 and is putting climate at the top of the group's priorities with programs to encourage sustainable living and money for countries to transition to clean energy, along with dealing with the effects of climate change.
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• The European Commission warned Elon Musk that if Twitter fails to remove Russian war propaganda, it means the platform would be "actively supporting the war." The Commission also told Musk that Twitter must try harder to comply with the Digital Services Act, the EU’s new content moderation rules. The law requires tech companies to control their platforms for content including terrorism propaganda, child abuse, hate speech, and commercial scams.
- On the other hand: Elon Musk and Tim Cook met at Apple’s headquarters and "resolved the misunderstanding" about Apple potentially removing Twitter from its App Store, Musk tweeted. The meeting came after Musk’s tweets, in which he complained that Apple "threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store” and “mostly stopped advertising on Twitter."
• Elon Musk’s Neuralink is planning to test its brain chip implants in humans in six months, depending on approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. The brain-computer interface, known as a BCI, will be implanted in the place of a chunk that will be removed from the patients’ skulls. The implants are expected to enable disabled people to move and communicate again and could restore vision, according to Musk.
• Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX, said he "never tried to commit fraud" during a video interview at The New York Times Dealbook summit, his first public appearance after the crash. He denied "knowingly" mixing customers’ funds, and said he "made a lot of mistakes" by not paying "enough attention to positions and positional risk on the exchange and to Alameda’s in particular."