Stocks were lower to start Monday with the Dow dropping 301 points, or 1%. The S&P 500 lost 0.5%, while the Nasdaq slid 0.3%.
Moderna said it will request emergency authorization from the FDA for its coronavirus vaccine later today. Moderna shares are up more than 14% on the news. The company said new data confirmed the vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 and is safe. The new analysts evaluated 196 confirmed COVID infections among Moderna’s late-stage trial of 30,000 participants, with 185 of those cases observed in the placebo group versus just 11 cases observed in the group that received the vaccine, giving the vaccine estimated efficacy of 94.1%. The vaccine also appears to have kept volunteers from getting severely sick from the virus, with 30 severe COVID infections in the placebo group and none in the group that received the vaccine. “This positive primary analysis confirms the ability of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and importantly, the ability to prevent severe COVID-19 disease,” said Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel in a statement. “We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death.”
Bitcoin surged past its former all-time high this morning, surging to a new record of $19,850.11 before pulling back to $19,352.43 at the time of writing. “Bitcoin’s moment has arrived,” said Guy Hirsch, managing director for the U.S. at the trading platform eToro. “This rally could still have quite a ways to go.” Tyler Winklevoss, co-founder of crypto exchanged Gemini and a long-time bitcoin bull, told CNBC, “Our thesis is that bitcoin is gold 2.0, that it will disrupt gold. And if it does that it has to have a market cap of $9 trillion. So we think bitcoin could price one day at $500,000 a bitcoin. So at $18,000 bitcoin, it’s a hold or at least if you don’t have any it’s a buy opportunity, because we think there’s a 25x from here.”
President-elect Joe Biden officially named former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as his pick for Treasury Secretary. If confirmed, Yellen will become the first woman to run the agency and will be tasked with steering the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Biden also named Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecelia Rouse to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. “As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said. “They will work tirelessly to ensure every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead, and that our businesses can thrive and outcompete the rest of the world.”
Under Armour announced that it has inked a deal with NBA star Stephen Curry to launch the Curry Brand, its answer to Nike’s Jordan Brand. The new line will launch on CurryBrand.com this week and will feature shoes and clothes, with the brand launching performance basketball shoes on December 11, and women’s and running options later on. “We wanted to make sure we did this as close as possible to the NBA season finally launching… and the fact that we’re launching in between Black Friday and the holidays we think is very opportune,” said Under Armour CEO Patrik Frisk. “This also gives Stephen something to really engage in… he’ll be actively involved in the development of the product. And we’re so excited to see one of our athletes being so involved in the product.”
Nikola shares are down nearly 25% this morning after General Motors announced that it is giving up its equity stake in the electric truck start-up and will be dropping plans to build the Badger, Nikola’s pickup truck. Back in September, the two companies announced a $2 billion deal that gave GM an 11% stake in Nikola to supply battery and fuel cell technologies, and produce the Badger. While the deal was initially seen as positive for GM, the talks between the two companies grew sour following the release of short-seller Hindenburg Research’s report accusing Nikola and its founder, former chairman Trevor Milton, of fraud. GM will still allow Nikola to use its hydrogen fuel-cell technology in its planned semi trucks. “This went from a game changer deal for Nikola to a good supply partnership but nothing to write home about,” said Wedbush’s Dan Ives. “No ownership/equity stake in Nikola and the billions of R&D potentially now off the table is a major negative blow to the Nikola story.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE): Sorrento Therapeutics shares saw a boost on Friday following the company’s announcement that its SmartPharm subsidiary had been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) co-funded by the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) to develop a rapid countermeasure to COVID-19. The contract will provide SmartPharm with up to $34 million for development through Phase 2 clinical studies of a gene-encoded antibody that could enable rapid protection from and/or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19. “We are excited that DARPA and JPEO have recognized our Gene MAbs platform as a potential rapid countermeasure for COVID-19 and the potential value for other applications to combat future viral diseases of pandemic potential,” said Dr. Henry Ji, CEO of Sorrento. “We acquired SmartPharm with the vision of combining the power of our antibody and biologic therapies for cancer and infectious diseases with next-generation gene-encoded technologies. We look forward to working with our Department of Defense partners to potentially add a novel approach to the arsenal of solutions for combating this devastating disease.”