Good morning. New variant vaccine, chipmaker deal talks, stocks edge higher. Here’s what’s moving markets.
Astra Adapts Vaccine
AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine showed limited efficacy against mild disease caused by the variant first identified in South Africa, according to early data. Protection against severe illness hasn’t yet been determined, Astra said, with the Financial Times reporting the study will be published today. Work is already under way to adapt the shot and a new version is “very likely” to be available by autumn. The U.K. has predicted that annual vaccination drives may be needed. Elsewhere, France aims to vaccinate up to four million by the end of this month, and Germany may have to extend its lockdown when state and federal leaders meet on Wednesday, according to the Bavarian state premier.
Dialog Deal Talks
U.K. chipmaker Dialog Semiconductor is in advanced discussions to sell the company to Japan’s Renesas Electronics for about 4.9 billion euros ($5.9 billion), with an offer price 20% above Friday’s close. The company, whose shares trade in Germany, previously held discussions with Franco-Italian group STMicroelectronics, people familiar with the matter said. The volume of deals involving semiconductor companies more than doubled last year to $144 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In separate deal news, Veolia Environnement has gone hostile in its long-running attempt to buy French utility rival Suez.
The euro is little changed after failing to see a big boost from news of Mario Draghi being linked up as Italian prime minister. Draghi will start a second round of talks with parties today and is expected to meet trade unions and business lobbies. Assuming the talks go well, Draghi could announce his cabinet picks this week before facing confidence votes in both houses of parliament. In stocks, an index tracking global bourses hit another record high and European futures are higher. Oil edges up again after hitting a one-year high last week.
U.S. President Joe Biden was questioned on why he has not spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping since entering the White House. “We haven’t had occasion to talk to one another yet,” Biden said in an interview with CBS recorded Friday. Despite seeing no need for conflict, Biden said China’s leader “doesn’t have a democratic, small ‘d,’ bone in his body.” China’s top diplomat last week warned the U.S. not to cross the country’s “red line,” in a speech seen as pushing back against early moves by Biden to press Beijing on human rights.
Today’s earnings slate is light but there’s a busy week ahead, with lender Societe Generale and brewer Heineken among the highlights. Watch shares of Rolls-Royce, too, as the aviation engineer proposes shutting down operations at its civil aerospace business for two weeks. Meanwhile, Tesco is leading…