It's coming down like stair-rods outside, and if you live in any decent city (or Sheffield) you are in tier three restrictions and can't get a pizza chaser to your glass of red for love nor money, you need cheering up.
Not the vaccine this time (although that still has a warm glow about it - especially Sputnik V which will make you quite literally radiate in the dark), but three pieces of cheery good news for a Wednesday evening:
1 Much as economists hate to admit it, with words slithering out of the side of their mouths like reluctant worms, but our glorious economy has everyone with a half-empty glass confounded again today with a return to growth, as businesses were once again liberated from national lockdown.
The IHS Markit/Cips flash composite purchasing managers' index (which has just kept the trophy for its third consecutive award of the most contrived name for an index on the planet) has measured activity in the manufacturing and services sectors and has a truly Great Britain rising from 49 to 50.7 this month. FYI any reading above 50 indicates growth. For those of you who are all about the detail; manufacturing rose from 55.6 to a three-year high of 57.3. Even the much battered services sector rose from a five-month low of 47.6 to 49.9.
Those who work at IHS must almost be blessing the lack of any party activity this December, as they won't need to re-live that painful conversation from last year:
"What do you do?"
"I am with the secret service. You?"
"I am an analyst at the IHS Markit/Cips flash composite purchasing managers' index ... hello? HELLO? Well, how rude ..."
2 Inflation slowed to a veritable crawl last month, with price growth titubating to an almost embarrassingly low of 0.3% (down from 0.7% in October). Some parts of the media tell us that economists are disappointed by this and tried to explain away their miserably inaccurate predictions by blaming Black Friday discounts, which are now an annual event and extremely predictable.
Economists perked up when a couple of them pointed out that prices would probably rise in the coming months, with some of the temporary factors for low inflation wafting away. The fact is though, that is good news for those of us who have money in our wallets and nowhere to spend it.
3 Sterling hit a 30-month high on the hopes that Brexit is only about the fish now, and Laura Kuenssberg might have that annoying little growth on her lower lip seen to once we are out of the European union. FINALLY. (That little lip growth has been annoying all of us in the NTI newsroom for ages.)
Ursula von der Leyen (whose name is an anagram for y overlend. Did anyone else spot that?) is starting to grow on us, and told avid Brexit-watchers that there has been progress in all areas, leaving just the fish (with a sideways look at the French, who just shrugged their shoulders in that annoying Gallic way). Sterling shot up 0.3 per cent against the dollar to $1.35, and we all started dreaming of Christmas shopping trips to New York in 2021.
Keep warm and dry this Wednesday evening.