Stocks were lower to start Monday with the Dow dropping 211 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 slid 0.5%, while the Nasdaq fell 0.2%.
Bitcoin has dropped more than 4% this morning after surging to a new record high of $34,544.94 over the weekend. “Today’s selloff is a reminder this is a relatively new asset, highly volatile, and still yet to find its place in the market,” said Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen Ltd. “There are many (major) hurdles for it to overcome for it to be a useful mainstream asset.” Bitcoin is up more than 300% over the last year, driven in part by increased interest in the digital asset by institutional investors as well as well-known Wall Street billionaires publicly backing the cryptocurrency.
In a year since COVID-19 first emerged in China, the world is confronting the worst surge of the virus yet. More than 85 million people globally have tested positive for the virus, which has killed 1.8 million. “As people around the world celebrated New Year’s Eve, 12 months ago a new global threat emerged,” said World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Since that moment, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken so many lives and caused massive destruction to families, societies, and economies all over the world.” As cases continue to surge globally, the U.S. surpassed 20 million recorded infections over the weekend.
News broke over the weekend that President Donald Trump urged election officials in Georgia to “find 11,780 votes” to flip the state that President-elect Joe Biden won in the November election, while also making veiled threats about potential criminal prosecution for the officials if he was refused. The Washington Post initially reported on the contents of the call, which was followed by swift backlash, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff calling Trump’s actions “potentially criminal” and thus “potentially impeachable.” In other election news, a group of Senators led by Ted Cruz of Texas is set to oppose the certification of Joe Biden as president on January 6. While the move will ultimately have little effect, some Republican lawmakers are warning of the dangerous precedent the opposition sets.
Google-parent Alphabet’s shares are down 2% today on news that more than 200 Google employees have come together to form the Alphabet Workers Union amid increasing disagreements with company executives. The union will be open to all employees and contractors, regardless of their role or classification, and will collect dues, pay organizing staff, and have an elected board of directors. It plans to take on issues including compensation, employee classification, and the kinds of work Google engages in. A letter from the union’s organizers published in the New York Times said workplace concerns at the company have been dismissed by executives for too long, while Kara Silverstein, director of people operations a Google, said in a statement, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
And Brookfield Asset Management is down 5% this morning after it said that it has made an offer to take its commercial real estate arm Brookfield Property Partners private in a $5.9 billion deal. “The privatization will allow us to have greater flexibility in operating the portfolio and realizing the intrinsic value of BPY’s high-quality assets,” said Brookfield Asset Management CFO Nick Goodman. “We believe that it has been consistently discounted for more than just the past year. We believed it would be a premium offering to the market given it has a unique global portfolio and some of the highest quality real estate in the world. But it has consistently struggled to trade at its net asset value.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Aethlon Medical (NASDAQ: AEMD): Aethlon shares have risen as much as 8% this morning after the company announced that it will participate in the virtual H.C. Wainwright BioConnect 2021 Conference happening from January 11 – 14. Shares of the stock are up nearly 29% over the last month following the company’s announcement that the first patient had been treated in Aethlon’s first-in-human Early Feasibility Study evaluating its Hemopurifier in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Charles J. Fisher, Jr., M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Aethlon, said, “We are delighted to be working with Dr. Zandberg and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Hillman to treat the first head and neck cancer patient with the HEMOPURIFIER®. By reducing the presence of immune suppressive exosomes from the circulatory system of head and neck cancer patients prior to treatment with KEYTRUDA®, we believe the HEMOPURIFIER® could have the potential to improve patient outcomes in this disease.