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Global stocks mostly higher...Optimism for COVID relief bill

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets are mostly higher after U.S. jobs data and a pact by oil producers to raise output helped to allay concern following Pfizer’s reduction of the number of coronavirus vaccine doses it might ship this year. Benchmarks in London, Shanghai, Frankfurt and Hong Kong advanced, while Tokyo declined. Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week than expected. OPEC and allies including Russia agreed to raise oil output in January that they had slashed to support prices after the pandemic depressed demand. U.S. stock futures have gained, rebounding from Thursday’s decline.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Today’s monthly U.S. jobs report will help answer a key question overhanging the economy: Just how much damage is being caused by the resurgent coronavirus, the resulting curbs on businesses and the reluctance of consumers to shop, travel and dine out? Economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet have forecast that employers added 450,000 jobs in November. In normal times, that would be a healthy increase. But a gain that size would amount to the weakest monthly hiring since April. The unemployment rate is projected to drop one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.8%.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Optimism about delivering long-sought COVID-19 relief is building on Capitol Hill after additional rank-and-file lawmakers voiced support for a bipartisan, middle-of-the-road plan taking shape in the Senate. Also, top congressional leaders connected on the topic for the first time in months. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — frequent rivals but proven dealmakers — spoke on the phone Thursday. Their conversation came the day after Pelosi signaled a willingness to make major concessions in search of a COVID-19 rescue package in the $1 trillion range. Some conservatives, including Republicans from COVID-19 hotspots like North Dakota and Iowa, said they were comfortable with an aid package carrying the almost $1 trillion price tag.

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. government has stepped up a feud with Beijing over security by adding China’s biggest processor chip maker and a state-owned oil giant to a blacklist that limits access to American technology and investment. The restrictions add to steps taken by President Donald Trump against China since losing his re-election bid in November. The announcement follows a Nov. 13 order barring Americans from investing in companies deemed to be linked to efforts to modernize the Chinese military.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark has decided to end all oil and gas offshore activities in the North Sea by 2050 and has cancelled its latest licensing round. It says it is “now putting an end to the fossil era.” The Danish Parliament voted late Thursday to end the offshore gas and oil extraction that started in 1972 and has made it the largest producer in the European Union. Non EU-members Norway and Britain are far larger producers. But environmental activists hailed the move as significant as it shows the way forward in how to fight climate change.

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