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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

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.