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Data: IHS Markit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A gauge of business activity in the U.S. continued to soar past pre-pandemic levels, while Europe's lockdown hurt its activity further in November, according to preliminary data from IHS Markit.

Why it matters: The index is a closely watched measure of the manufacturing and services sectors across the globe.

What they’re saying: “The eurozone economy has plunged back into a severe decline in November amid renewed efforts to quash the rising tide of COVID-19 infections,” Chris Williamson, an economist at IHS Markit, said in a release.

  • “The data add to the likelihood that the euro area will see GDP contract again in the fourth quarter.”
  • Yes, but: Germany's services and manufacturing sectors continued to expand, though activity slipped to the weakest level since July.

The other side: Business activity in the U.S. was the strongest in over five years.

  • The survey showed the steepest monthly rise in employment among firms in the survey's 11-year history, although manufacturers reported slowing job creation.

What we're watching: U.S. firms also reported a record sharp rise in input costs, "as growing demand for inputs and supply shortages reportedly pushed supplier prices higher," the release said.

  • Cost inflation in the services sector hit a survey high, while manufacturers' input costs soared at the fastest rate in over two years.

The bottom line: The survey of businesses was conducted as pharmaceutical companies reported encouraging trial data on coronavirus vaccines — pushing confidence among manufacturer and service firms higher in the eurozone.

  • In the U.S., expectations about the coming year were the most upbeat in over six years, "reflecting the combination of a post-election lift to confidence and encouraging news that vaccines may allow a return to more normal business conditions in the not too distant future," per IHS Markit.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

CDC director: “I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have"

CDC director Rochelle Walensky, newly appointed by President Biden, told Fox News on Sunday that the administration does not know the current number of COVID vaccines available for distribution — due to a lack of data gathered by the agency under Trump — making it more difficult for states to accurately plan.

Why it matters: Hospitals in states including Texas, South Carolina, New York, and California have canceled thousands of appointments due to running low on vaccines or nearly depleting their share, the New York Times reports.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.