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Good morning. Markets are showing relief at a cooling of U.S.-Iran tensions, Brexit red lines have been set out and Nissan responds to Carlos Ghosn. Here’s what’s moving markets.


U.S. President Donald Trump said Iran appeared to be “standing down” from further escalation of tensions between the two countries following the missile attack on a U.S. base that Pentagon officials believe was not designed to kill any American personnel, rather just send a message. The U.S. will impose more sanctions on Iran but Trump did offer a diplomatic olive branch, vaguely suggesting that another nuclear deal could be negotiated. For markets, it should go some way to reducing the jitters, though it does raise the question of whether markets are showing cool judgment or dangerous complacency.

Red Lines

The stalls are being set out for another year when Brexit is likely to remain very high of the agenda in U.K. politics. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met and set out some red lines for the negotiations which are set to take place over the course of the coming year, though von der Leyen warned very clearly that getting a full and comprehensive exit deal done by the end of 2020 is “impossible.” Elsewhere, European Central Bank officials still think there's a risk a no-deal Brexit happens while Goldman Sachs Inc. likes U.K. stocks for this year.

Nissan’s Response

Carlos Ghosn, the world's most famous white collar fugitive, used his two-and-a-half hour news conference in Lebanon to assail Japan's justice system and make allegations about executives at his former employer, Nissan Motor Co. Nissan bosses responded to the accusations mostly with derision, keeping the war of words going. Ultimately, the news conference seems unlikely to change the picture for Ghosn or indeed for Nissan, where the stock is still trading near recent lows and it faces the same challenges of slowing sales and huge investment requirements as other global car companies. Not that this means the noise will fade any time soon.

High Street

It will be a busy day for those trying to fully gauge the health of the U.K.’s retail sector as supermarket chain Tesco Plc and clothing and food firm Marks & Spencer Group Plc both update on the Christmas period. The others that have already reported, including apparel retailer Next Plc and Tesco’s grocery rivals J Sainsbury Plc and Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, have held up relatively well against gloomy forecasts but all say the environment is tough. After Thursday, when we also get numbers from home-furnishings firm Dunelm Group Plc, greeting card merchant Card Factory Plc and pub and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers Plc, we’ll know better exactly how tough things are.

Coming Up…

Asian stocks bounced on the toning down of the rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran and European stock futures indicate a similar rise will occur when markets open here. Oil pared its recent gains and gold, the safe haven assets of choice in recent days, also dipped. More data will arrive on the state of Germany’s economy with industrial production numbers, plus there will be a bevy of European Central Bank and Federal Reserve officials speaking over the course of the day. 

What We’ve Been Reading

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

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