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Big Tech Stocks Slide As President Biden Prepares To Sign Executive Order To Crackdown On Anticompetitive Practices

Big Tech Stocks Slide As President Biden Prepares To Sign Executive Order To Crackdown On Anticompetitive Practices

Plus, Wells Fargo said it is shutting down all personal lines of credit to focus more on its credit card and personal loans business, Pfizer plans to apply for emergency use authorization for a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine in August, and Stamps.com has agreed to be taken private by Thoma Bravo.

Stocks were higher at the open on Friday with the Dow adding 35 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 gained 0.2%, while the Nasdaq rose by 0.1%.

Big tech stocks traded slightly lower Friday morning as President Joe Biden geared up to sign a new executive order aimed at cracking down on anticompetitive practices. The sweeping order includes 72 actions and recommendations that involve more than a dozen federal agencies and is meant to reframe the thinking around corporate consolidation and antitrust laws. The order also calls on regulators to take steps to lower drug prices, toughen merger enforcement in technology and banking, and give workers more power to change jobs and negotiate higher wages. “The impulse for this executive order is really around where can we encourage greater competition across the board,” said White House chief economic advisor Brian Deese. 

Wells Fargo shares are up nearly 3% this morning after the bank said it was shutting down all existing personal lines of credit in an effort to focus on credit cards and personal loans. “In an effort to simplify our product offerings, we’ve made the decision to no longer offer personal lines of credit as we feel we can better meet the borrowing needs of our customers through credit card and personal loan products,” bank spokesman Manny Venegas said in a statement. The firm warned that the account closures “may have an impact” on customers’ credit scores, causing widespread anger. Senator Elizabeth Warren denounced the decision to eliminate the personal lines of credit, tweeting, “Not a single Wells Fargo customer should see their credit score suffer just because their bank is restructuring after years of scams and incompetence. Sending out a warning notice simply isn’t good enough – Wells Fargo needs to make this right.”

Pfizer and BioNTech said they plan to request emergency authorization in August for a booster shot of their COVID-19 vaccine specifically to target the delta variant based on data that it can sharply increase immune protection against the coronavirus. “As seen in real world evidence released from the Israel Ministry of Health, vaccine efficacy has declined six months post-vaccination, at the same time that the Delta variant is becoming the dominate variant in the country,” the companies said in a written statement. “These findings are consistent with an ongoing analysis from the companies’ Phase 3 study. That is why we have said, and we continue to believe that it is likely, based on the totality of the data we have to date, that a third dose may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination.” Still, the CDC and FDA urged caution in a statement on Thursday, questioning if a booster shot is needed yet. “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” the agencies said. “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”

Stamps.com shares are up nearly 64% at the time of writing on news that private equity firm Thoma Bravo would take it private for around $6 billion in cash, with shareholders receiving $330 per share. The deal includes a 40-day “go-shop” agreement allowing Stamps.com to seek a higher offer, otherwise, the deal is expected to close in the third quarter. Thoma Bravo is one of the largest software-focused private equity firms with $78 billion in assets under management. “Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in the history of Stamps.com and will provide us with a new and exciting platform from which we can continue to execute our global strategy driven by best-in-class software and technology solutions,” Ken McBride, Stamps.com’s Chairman and CEO, said in a press release. “With the financial and operational support of Thoma Bravo, Stamps.com can continue to innovate and pursue growth opportunities to capture the expanding e-commerce shipping market and extend our position as the leading global multi-carrier e-commerce shipping software company. This transaction is a testament to the excellence and hard work of all of our employees and their relentless dedication to our customers and partners throughout the world.”

And crypto exchange startup Bullish is going public in a reverse merger with a SPAC backed by former NYSE president Tom Farley, Far Peak Acquisition Corporation. The deal values the combined company at around $9 billion and is expected to close in the fourth quarter, with Farley becoming the CEO of Bullish once the deal is complete. “This is a big idea whose time has come,” Farley said. “Digital assets are here to stay. The smartest engineering talent is going into digital assets; digital assets are solving very important problems. Anybody who tells you they know exactly how it’s going to turn out is lying or delusional, but in general, you’re going to see more and more interesting use cases, more and more dollars go into the space.”

Stocks We’re Watching

Calyxt Inc (NASDAQ: CLXT): Calyxt announced yesterday its further expansion into its hemp breeding platform with the addition of triploid breeding technology to create seedless hemp. “It’s our mission at Calyxt to harness plants to generate valuable products” said Sarah Reiter, Chief Business Officer, Calyxt, Inc. “With our suite of innovations already announced and more still in development, hemp’s potential as a system for production of healthy, plant-based protein, oil and alternatives to plastics is within our reach. Our goal is to enable easy access and use of our patent-pending triploid seed technology by partners across the industry in order to convert the potential benefits of hemp to reality as quickly as possible.”

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