Friday, October 1, 2021

Dow Surges Nearly 500 Points, but Stocks Register Weekly Losses.

U.S. stock indexes closed solidly higher Friday, with some of the upbeat mood on Wall Street to start October and the fourth quarter being attributed to an experimental Covid-19 pill from Merck that has shown promise in trials. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 453 points, or 1.4%, to 34,326. The S&P 500 index rose 1.2% to 4357, and the Nasdaq Composite index closed 0.8% higher at about 14,567. For the week, however, the Nasdaq closed down 3.2% and the S&P 500 ended off 2.2% for their worst weekly declines since Feb. 26, while the Dow ended the week off 1.4% for the sharpest weekly slide since Sept. 10.

Barrons Update Oct 1 2021

California Announces First K-12 Vaccine Mandate

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that the state would require all schoolchildren over the age of 12 to get a Covid-19 vaccine, part of a phased-in mandate that will eventually extend to children in grades K-6 once the FDA approves a vaccine for their age range.

The mandate applies to children in public and private schools, the nation’s first statewide requirement for schools.

“Our schools already require vaccines for measles, mumps and more. Why? Because vaccines work,” Newsom tweeted.

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Merck Says Pill Cuts Covid Hospitalization by 50%

Merck said early Friday that it plans to submit its oral Covid-19 antiviral pill to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization “as soon as possible” after an analysis found that the drug had cut the risk of hospitalization or death by approximately 50% in a late-stage trial.

Merck said that 14.1% of those who had received a placebo were either hospitalized or dead after 29 days, compared with 7.3% of those who had received its drug, molnupiravir. The Phase 3 trial analyzed data from 755 patients enrolled as of Aug. 5.

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Facebook Pauses Instagram for Kids Following Criticism

Facebook said this week it will pause plans to build a children’s version of its popular Instagram photo-sharing social media application. The tech giant had come under increasing pressure from parents and lawmakers in recent months who expressed concerns about the impact social media was having on children’s health.

An Instagram blog said: “While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project. This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers, and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”

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BioNTech Co-Founder Says Covid Will ‘Become Manageable’ and Be With Us for Years

Covid-19 will become manageable, but will be with us for years to come, according to BioNTech co-founder Dr. Özlem Türeci. The chief medical officer of BioNTech, the German company that developed a Covid vaccine in partnership with U.S. drug giant Pfizer, also said she could imagine a scenario in which booster shots were given every 12-18 months, but added that more data were needed.

“I don’t think the world should live in fear. Covid will become manageable, it already has started to become manageable,” Türeci said on “The CNBC Conversation.”

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Democrats Try to Push Through Biggest Health-Care Overhaul Since Obamacare

Democrats in Congress are trying to push through the biggest expansion of health care since President Obama’s presidency, spending more than $800 billion on everything from additional Medicare benefits to home-based care.

The measures are all tucked into the 2,468-page tax-and-spending package that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is trying to get through the House. The overall cost of the bill is estimated at $3.5 trillion, including hundreds of billions for green energy, child care, and education grants, including universal pre-K.

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Americans Keep Spending Despite High Inflation

Americans spent more in August, firming up the recovery as the economy gears up for the coming the holiday season, new government numbers show.

Meanwhile, inflation accelerated slightly in August, now at an annual 4.3%, compared with 4.2% the month before and still the highest rate in three decades, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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Ransomware Is a Growing Problem. Here’s How the Cyberinsurance Industry Is Fueling It.

Ransomware extracted $18 billion in payments last year, and it’s expected there will be an attack every 11 seconds by this year’s end, a problem that some security experts and academic researchers say is exacerbated by the system meant to protect against cybercrime: the insurance industry.

Organizations with cyberinsurance are more than twice as likely to pay ransoms as those without, according to a global survey of 1,823 companies, governments, health systems, and other organizations that had been hit by ransomware commissioned by U.K.-based cybersecurity and software firm Sophos. This is one of the first times data have been gathered that show the extent of the relationship between cyberinsurance and ransomware payments. Critics say that relationship helps fuel a ransomware economy that the federal government estimates causes $445 billion in damages to the global economy every year.

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Big Tax Changes Are Brewing. What You Need to Know.

If you make big money or you smoke, chances are good that you’re not going to like the tax package that Congress is set to vote on before the end of the month.

Democrats, led by President Joe Biden, are clear about where they stand—higher taxes for top earners, calling for a 3% surtax on income above $5 million, changes to individual retirement account rules, a cut in the qualified small-business stock exemption, and the elimination of an estate-planning tool.

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Lost in the Din of D.C.—Sen. Warren’s Opposition to a New Powell Term as Fed Chief

It was easy to miss one development in Washington, D.C., that has more potential consequence than partisan brinkmanship over a debt ceiling that must get lifted and intraparty fighting over just how many trillions will be spent over the next decade.

When Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before the Senate Banking Committee on this week, he defended the Fed’s response to the Covid pandemic, updated senators on the status of emergency facilities, and fielded questions about the state of the economy. He also took a lambasting from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) that, while not altogether surprising, was jarring in light of the looming expiration of his four-year term.

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Merck and Acceleron Pharma Agree to $11.5 Billion Deal

Merck said Thursday it will acquire drugmaker Acceleron Pharma in a $11.5 billion deal that will boost the U.S. pharmaceutical group’s drug pipeline with Acceleron’s drugs that treat rare diseases.

“Acceleron’s innovative research has yielded an exciting late-stage candidate that complements and strengthens our growing cardiovascular portfolio and pipeline and holds the potential to build upon Merck’s proud legacy in cardiovascular disease,” Merck CEO and President Rob Davis said in a statement.

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