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5 things to start your day

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Five Things - Europe

Good morning. President Trump is impeached for the second time, Italy's government is in turmoil and Covid-19 is overwhelming health services again. Here’s what’s moving markets.

Second Impeachment

President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House on a single charge of insurrection for his role in last week's riots at the Capitol, making him the first president in history to be impeached twice. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will determine how quickly to send the impeachment article to the Senate for trial, with Senate leader Mitch McConnell having rejected a plea for an emergency session to start the trial prior to Trump's final day in the White House. That will mean that Trump's trial is set to overshadow the earliest days in office for President-elect Joe Biden, likely delaying new nominees and his agenda.

Italy's Coalition

Italy's government is at risk of collapse after a junior coalition partner, led by former premier Matteo Renzi, pulled out. Renzi attacked Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for failing to do enough to tackle the problems Italy faces, sparking a crisis for the country at a delicate time. Conte had reportedly attempted to quell the crisis earlier in the day, but now faces the task of piece together another coalition. The news reverberated through Italian government bonds, after a modest rise in the cost of borrowing for the country in recent days amid the political turmoil. That could read into Italy's domestic banks when trading gets going on Thursday.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the U.K.'s hospitals could be overwhelmed as the country registered its highest daily death toll since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Germany, meanwhile, defended its decision to rely on the European Union to secure vaccines amid criticism of the slow rollout, though in France the willingness to get the shot is overcoming skepticism about the treatment. Encouragingly, the one-shot vaccine candidate from Johnson & Johnson showed a promising response in an early safety study. And in the U.S., the number of patients hospitalized by Covid-19 was roughly flat this past week and is set to start to decline for the first time since September.

Takeover Opposition

The bid from Canadian convenience store group Alimentation Couche-Tard for grocer Carrefour is set to run into opposition from the French government. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he was "not in favor" of the $20 billion bid -- which would be the biggest ever takeover of a French company -- as the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of domestic control over food supply. Carrefour is also the country's largest private employer, making a merger politically-sensitive at a time when jobs are at the top of the agenda. That may put a damper on hopes for a turbocharged start to the year for French M&A.

Coming Up…

European and U.S. stock-futures are pointing marginally higher, with Asian stocks up and Treasury yields rising amid reports the Biden administration's Covid-19 relief package will be around $2 trillion. German GDP will be the focus for economic data, with the country in better shape than most of the euro-area. The earnings calendar is relatively bustling, with numbers coming from U.K. grocer Tesco, Primark-owner AB Foods and hotel operator Whitbread.

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours. 

And finally, here's what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning

Whispers of a $2 trillion opener from Joe Biden on his Covid relief package were enough to cause a reversal in benchmark Treasury yields early Thursday, after they dropped the most in more than a month overnight. That should give fresh reason to mull the key question on investor minds in recent weeks -- how high can they climb before they spoil the global risk asset rally. As my colleagues Moxy Ying and Ruth Carson pointed out today, some worry more about the pace of their ascent -- JPMorgan Asset Management suggested a 30-plus basis point rise in a two-or-three week period would be enough to trigger some market jitters. Others are focusing on breaches of levels from 1.3% to 1.6% -- about 20 basis points or so away from the current 1.1% on 10-year Treasuries. The global bond benchmark touched 1.19% this week, its highest since the pandemic-induced market rout in March, as traders bet the rollout of vaccines and Democratic control of the U.S. government boosted the odds of higher inflation. The moves brought back memories of 2013’s so-called taper tantrum, when yields surged on the disclosure the Federal Reserve was considering dialing back asset purchases, leading to a jump in volatility in financial markets. Back then benchmark yields jumped a hundred basis points in just under two months.

Cormac Mullen is a cross-asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.

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