Monday Morning Reads
- Portrait of a Market in India Run Solely By Women
- U.S. Stimulus Prospects Buoy Strategists
- A Gold Standard Would Be Great
- What Are Fractional Shares
- The Pandemic Depression Is Over
- Rhetoric and Reality
- Microsoft to Build Hub
- Exxon’s Plan
- Should Investors Change Course Because of the POTUS Diagnosis?
- A Random Talk
- Some Ideas
A special committee, formed at the behest of the CDC and NIH, recommends a four-phase deployment of COVID-19 vaccines after emergency use authorization (EUA), likely to happen later this quarter, that prioritizes vulnerable populations. First up would be front-line healthcare workers and first responders. The federal officals, who expect to ship initial doses within 24 hours of EUA, are already on board with another of the committee's suggestions, no out-of-pocket costs for vaccination.
New York City will close schools and non-essential businesses on Wednesday within nine ZIP codes. Indoor and outdoor dining will also be closed in these areas. Houses of worship will remain open, with restrictions. Neighborhoods to be closed have had a positivity rate of more than 3% for at least seven straight days. "We can stop this from being a 'second wave' in New York City," Mayor De Blasio said at a press conference. "In these communities it is a very troublesome reality that has to be addressed aggressively." Closures may last from 2-4 weeks he said.
Chinese authorities are set to expand a program to administer experimental COVID-19 vaccines to large swaths of the population before late-stage studies are completed aimed at rapidly advancing the products into the marketplace and dominating global supply. Last month, a representative of state-owned China National Biotec Group, or Sinopharm, revealed that hundreds of thousands of Chinese had already taken the company’s two lead vaccine candidates under the government's limited use program. Medical experts are concerned with the ethics and safety of a program of this scale, especially considering Chinese authorities' claims that it had almost completely stopped the spread of COVID-19 within its borders. Details of the program remain unclear.
A leaked document seen by The Guardian points toward a harsher three-tier COVID-19 lockdown plan in England, which has seen rising numbers of cases of the disease. The draft plan isn't final and needs approval from ministers including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but its most serious level (Alert level 3) has the harshest measures so far, including shutting down all pubs and leisure businesses, restricting social contact outside of homes, as well as overnight stays away from home, and banning organized nonprofessional sports.
Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) and larger-than-life chief Larry Ellison are back in the buzz mix around the virtual water cooler after bagging an expected 12.5% stake in video-sharing app TikTok (BDNCE). The deal lands a flashy new customer for its lagging cloud-computing business and a victory over long-time rival Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). It has not disclosed the specific value of its investment but it could be north of $7B. The company and Walmart (NYSE:WMT) collectively will own 20% of a new U.S.-based TikTok.
In a 14-page document, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) lawyers say separating Instagram and WhatsApp from the company is a complete "non-starter." The company released the document ahead of a report from the House Antitrust Subcommittee expected this month. It claims that it would be almost impossible for Facebook to unwind the acquisitions, Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and would force it to spend "billions" of dollars maintaining separate systems, weakening security and harming user experiences. The government's case, if pursued, would probably focus on arguments that the company's acquisitions were aimed at reducing competition, a question that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) did not consider according to Columbia University law professor Tim Wu. He adds that Facebook's claim that a potential breakup would be too hard would be unlikely to carry much legal weight. The FTC is reportedly planning to file a complaint against the company by year-end, part of a broader wave of investigations into fellow tech behemoths Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL).
With shares exchanging hands 27% lower so far this year, AT&T (NYSE:T) chief John Stankey is trying to convince investors to stay the course after its $85B takeout of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) that catapulted it to the second largest movie studio in the U.S. behind Disney and a top pay-TV provider. He is confident that the investment will pay off, it will just take a while. The company says it still has the resources to support its rich dividend (7%) of almost $15B a year and has paid down about $30B in debt. It is reviewing its business units for potential divestment, including DirectTV which could fetch close to $20B (less than half of what it paid in 2015).
Facing pushback from Indian developers, Google (GOOG, GOOGL) says it's delaying taking its commission from in-app payments in India through the end of March 2022. The payments policy it wants to enforce is part of its global policy, it says, and it applies only to developers who charge users to download an app, and/or to developers who sell in-app digital items, which makes up less than 3% of developers with apps in the store.
The second-largest cinema chain in America is poised to shutter all its 500+ U.S. locations after reopening less than two months ago due to pandemic pressures that have forced a cascade of postponements of big-budget films, most recently the new James Bond flick starring Daniel Craig. Ex-U.S. theaters have fared better. Tenet, for example, has grossed ~$244M internationally according to Box Office Mojo. Parent Cineworld (OTCPK:CNNWF, OTC:CNWGY) reported a 70% plunge in H1 revenue to $712.4M.
In Asia, Japan +1.2%. Hong Kong +1.3%. China closed. India +0.8%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.7%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +0.7%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.6%. S&P +0.6%. Nasdaq +0.8%. Crude +3.5% to $38.32. Gold -0.17% to $1904.45. Bitcoin +0.8% to $10706.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 0.714%
Today's Economic Calendar