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Italian politics, the challenges of vaccination are in focus

LONDON – European stocks opened in mixed territory on Tuesday, with investors focusing on the emerging battle between vaccine maker AstraZeneca and the EU and on political uncertainty in Italy.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was partially moving above the flat line at the start of trading, with chemicals adding 1.1%, while travel and leisure stocks fell 0.9%.

The shares of British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca will be closely monitored on Tuesday after the EU accused it of not doing enough to resolve a dispute over how many doses it will be able to supply to the EU. The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency, but is expected to be forthcoming. Last week, AstraZeneca said it was facing production problems.

In other news about the coronavirus, Moderna said Monday that it is speeding up work on a Covid-1

9 booster for the recently discovered variant in South Africa. The company’s researchers said its current coronavirus vaccine appears to work against the two highly transmissible strains found in Britain and South Africa.

Italian stocks will be closely monitored on Tuesday as a new political crisis comes to the fore. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to resign on Tuesday after a morning cabinet meeting and will seek a new term. The move comes after weeks of tension between Conte and Matteo Renzi, leader of a junior coalition party in the government.

Elsewhere, U.S. stock futures fell slightly Monday night as Wall Street headed to the heart of corporate profit seasons; General Electric, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson are ready to report results before the bell, while technology giant Microsoft will announce its fiscal revenues for the second quarter after the bell. In the Asia-Pacific region, stocks fell on Tuesday.

Profits come from LVMH, Novartis and UBS on Tuesday. The figures include employment data in the UK for November.

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