Reuters
The Reuters Daily Briefing

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

by Linda Noakes

  • Moderna’s CEO says vaccines are likely to be less effective against Omicron
  • Trump seeks to keep records away from Capitol riot investigators
  • Blinken warns Russia of “serious consequences” of any new Ukraine aggression

Today’s biggest stories

People wear face masks on the London underground, November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

COVID-19

Drugmaker Moderna’s CEO set off fresh alarm bells in financial markets after he warned that COVID-19 vaccines were unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant as they have been against the Delta version.

Europe’s main bourses jolted 1.4% lower and oil shed 3%, while Japan’s safe-haven yen, German government bonds and gold all rose. Investors are preparing for swings and opportunities as Omicron spreads.

The EU drug regulator said it could approve vaccines adapted to target the Omicron variant within three to four months if needed, but that existing shots would continue to provide protection.

The variant was detected in the Netherlands before two flights arrived from South Africa last week carrying the virus, Dutch health officials said. Some 61 out of the more than 600 passengers on the flights tested positive and went into quarantine after arriving on Friday.

President Joe Biden urged Americans not to panic and said the United States was making contingency plans with pharmaceutical companies if new vaccines are needed.

New mask mandates and other measures aimed at curbing the spread of the variant came into force in England, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson eyes an expanded booster programme to help increase protection.

Christmas trees in the State Dining Room are decorated with snapshots of U.S. presidents and their families, here Donald and Melania Trump, during a press tour of White House Christmas decorations, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

U.S.

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers are set to ask a U.S. appeals court to keep records about his conversations and actions before and during the deadly January 6 Capitol riot by a mob of his supporters away from congressional investigators.

Congress could vote as early as tomorrow to continue funding the federal government, according to congressional aides, avoiding what would be a politically embarrassing partial shutdown.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal sex abuse trial enters its second day, with prosecutors expected to question a longtime pilot of the deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein. We explain the charges in the trial.

Jury selection is set to begin in the manslaughter trial of a white former Minnesota police officer charged in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a Black man whose April death sparked protests in a state already on edge over George Floyd’s killing.

Pennsylvania prosecutors said they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out the state court decision that overturned Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction earlier this year.

WORLD

The United States warned of “serious consequences” for any renewed Russian aggression as the Western military alliance NATO met to discuss Moscow’s intentions for massing troops on the border with Ukraine. We spoke to Ukrainians near the conflict zone who are trying to guess Putin’s next move.

EU, Iranian and Russian diplomats sounded upbeat as Iran and world powers held their first talks in five months to try to save their 2015 nuclear deal, despite Tehran taking a tough stance in public that Western powers said would not work.

Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte’s preferred successor, Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go, announced he was dropping out of the presidential race, leaving the administration without a candidate in next year’s polls.

Protesters plan to march across Sudan and on the presidential palace in the latest protest against military rule following last month’s coup. Neighborhood resistance committees called the protests despite an agreement last week that reinstated civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

One in three people working in Australia’s parliament have experienced sexual harassment, a report said, following an independent inquiry into parliamentary workplace culture. Prime Minister Scott Morrison ordered the review after his party came under pressure over its handling of an alleged rape inside the building.

BUSINESS

Britain’s competition regulator said it has directed Facebook owner Meta Platforms to sell animated images platform Giphy after finding that the deal could harm social media users and UK advertisers.

As Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hands the reins to technology chief Parag Agrawal, Breakingviews columnist Gina Chon says his departure from one of the companies he created helps them both.

A regional director for the U.S. National Labor Relations Board called for a rerun of a union election at an Amazon.com facility in Alabama, setting the stage for another high-profile organizing battle at the world’s largest online retailer.

The arrest of Macau’s junket mogul is expected to shrink business in the world’s largest gambling hub, with authorities in China underlining their intent to crack down on what they see as a dangerous outflow of funds from the mainland. Alvin Chau’s arrest has ushered in a new era – one of zero tolerance towards the promotion of gambling in China.

Volvo Cars warned that the sector-wide semiconductor shortage would continue into next year, as its first quarterly report since listing on the stock market a month ago confirmed a dip in revenue and profit.