Before the Open (Oct 5-9)

Good morning. Happy Friday.

The Asian/Pacific markets closed mixed and little change. China posted a huge gain – it played catch-up after being closed for a few days. India and Malaysia did well; Japan and Thailand were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East currently lean up. The UK, Denmark, Turkey, South Africa, Finland, the Netherlands and Israel are up; Poland and Portugal are down. Futures in the States point towards a moderate gap up open for the cash market.

————— BLOG: Electric Vehicles – The Next Big Thing —————

The dollar is down. Oil is down; copper is up. Gold and silver are flat. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Eyes On Stimulus Developments Again

Investors are still largely focused on new twists and turns with stimulus efforts in the U.S. Last night, President Donald Trump said talks had resumed on an aid package for the struggling U.S. economy, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to talk once again. Global stock markets have started the day off with a dose of optimism. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.7% following a strong read on services activity in China and the SZSE Component Index was up 3.0%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell back 0.3% and Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.1%. European stocks are largely higher despite sluggish PMI data, with the Stoxx 600 Index gaining 0.2%. France’s CAC 40 and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 are both in positive territory in mid-day action. Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures are setting up for a positive open, with S&P 500 futures up 0.4% and Dow Jones futures 0.3% higher.

Crude oil stays on track for big week

Oil (CL1:COM) is poised for its biggest weekly gain since May, even though prices have tracked back just a bit. Operators in the Gulf of Mexico have closed off about 92% of production ahead of Hurricane Delta as the storm barrels toward Louisiana. Yesterday, OPEC forecast global oil demand will keep rising until around 2040, when it will plateau at about 109.3M bbl/day, or about 10% above the level of production in 2019. Later today, traders will get their hand on the latest Baker Hughes U.S. oil rig count report. In early action, WTI crude oil futures -0.8% to $40.86/bbl and Brent crude -0.3% to $43.20/bbl.

AMD seeking to buy Xilinx in latest big semiconductor tie-up

Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) is in advanced talks to buy rival chip maker Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX) in a deal that could be valued at more than $30B, WSJ reports. Earlier talks are said to have stalled before recently restarting, and the latest deal under discussion could come together as soon as next week, according to the report. A deal for Xilinx would raise AMD to a more even competitive footing with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and give it a bigger position in the growing telecom and defense markets.

Golden Week traffic in Macau disappoints

Traffic in Macau fell 85.7% during Golden Week to come in well short of most expectations within the industry. Of the 139,280 visitors to enter during the holiday week, 97,126 came via the Gongbei Border Gate, 4,190 by ferry and 7,149 by plane. JPMorgan reset expectations on a Macau recovery after the Golden Week disappointment. “Choppy demand and dwindling hope of ‘return to normalcy in 2021’ make us acknowledge the sector’s risk-reward isn’t as attractive as we had envisioned, despite seemingly undemanding valuation (on 2022, not 2021),” updated the firm. Earlier this week, the Macau sector received some good news when Bernstein Research predicted that all six casino operators will retain their licenses, although the government is likely to impose additional economic conditions. The firm doesn’t think the current tensions between Washington and Beijing will prevent U.S. operators from staying in Macau.

Nikola talks up hydrogen potential

Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) showed off its prototypes to the hydrogen industry yesterday at an event that also covered the company’s patents and strategy to be a technology integrator. The presentation coincided with National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day 2020. Nikola noted it has developed core IP related to, among other things, vehicle integration and hydrogen storage and fueling, and continues to work with its world-class partners to develop next-generation standard fueling hardware and advance hydrogen fuel cell-based transportation. “Nikola is creating an ecosystem that integrates next-generation truck technology, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and maintenance. By removing commercial trucks from the carbon equation, Nikola is fulfilling our mission of leaving the world a better place,” said CEO Mark Russell.

Shares of Nikola are up 2% premarket

Takeda in group trial for COVID-19 hyperimmune convalescent plasma treatment

Japan’s Takeda (NYSE:TAK) is part of a group of companies testing an experimental COVID-19 convalescent plasma treatment, derived from those having recovered from the disease. The “hyperimmune” drug combines antibodies from multiple recovered patients, vs. typical convalescent treatments derived from single patients. Takeda, Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE:EBS), CSL Behring (OTCPK:CSLLY) and Grifols (NASDAQ:GRFS) are gathering antibodies in the government trial, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; it could be completed by year-end.

DOJ eyes cryptocurrency threats

The Department of Justice said in a new report that law enforcement is hampered by the global nature of digital coins and the lack of consistent regulation across regions. Cryptocurrencies in general are called detrimental to the safety and stability of the international financial system due to the opportunities for rogue nations, criminals and terrorists to skirt reporting requirements. “Current terrorist use of cryptocurrency may represent the first raindrops of an oncoming storm of expanded use,” stated Attorney General William Barr’s Cyber-Digital Task Force. The task force warned that cryptocurrencies provide bad actors with the means to earn illegal profits and become a threat to national security. The DOJ’s larger goal with the report is to lay out a framework for cryptocurrency enforcement.

China Services PMI runs hot

China September Caixin Services PMI came in at 54.8 to top both the consensus mark of 54.3 and the 54.0 reading for August. Services PMI has now increased for five straight months, and the latest rate of expansion was among the highest recorded over the past decade. Growth was supported by a marked rise in total new business, though new export work continued to decline. A sustained rise in overall client demand led firms to expand their payrolls for the second month in a row amid increased capacity pressures. Companies also retained a positive outlook regarding activity over the year ahead, with business confidence improving since August.

Chinese funds targeting Ant IPO draw $9B from millions of retail investors

Five Chinese funds targeting the upcoming mega-IPO of Ant Group (NYSE:BABA) sold out in days, having cumulatively raised about 60B yuan – or about $8.93B – from more than 10M retail investors. The funds launched Sept. 25 to raise 12B yuan each and invest up to 10% of assets to buy shares in the Ant IPO, aiming to raise about $35B in a Hong Kong/Shanghai dual listing and value the company at more than $250B. Two of the funds hit their target even before a week-long holiday that started Oct. 1; Ant’s Alipay says today the other three sold out as well.

What else is happening…

(OTCPK:LDNXF, OTCPK:LNSTY) to sell Borsa Italiana to Euronext (OTCPK:EUXTF) for €4.3B.
NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) shoots to 52-week high after strong preliminary Q3 numbers.
GameStop (NYSE:GME) soars after Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) development.
Disney (NYSE:DIS) moves ‘Soul’ to streaming, in theaters’ latest loss.

Today’s Economic Calendar
9:00 Fed’s Barkin: “Community Conversation: Resiliency of the Economy”
10:00 Wholesale Inventories (Preliminary)
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count

—————-

Good morning. Happy Thursday.

The Asian/Pacific markets did well. New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines each gained more than 1%. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mostly up. The UK, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Israel and Austria are leading. Futures in the States point towards a moderate gap up open for the cash market.

————— BLOG: Electric Vehicles – The Next Big Thing —————

The dollar is flat. Oil is up; copper is down. Gold and silver are up. Bonds are up.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Regeneron seeks FDA emergency clearance for COVID-19 therapy

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) has asked the Food and Drug Administration to provide emergency use authorization to its REGN-COV2 investigational antibody combination for COVID-19, The company says it currently has enough doses for about 50,000 patients and expects to have enough for 300,000 patients within the next few months. President Trump received the antibody cocktail last Friday and lauded the treatment in a video posted to Twitter yesterday, saying he would authorize its emergency use.

Pelosi and Mnuchin to talk airline relief

The airline sector is on watch after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met yesterday to discuss the possibility of standalone legislation of as much as $25B for cash-strapped carriers. Pelosi and Mnuchin plan to talk again today amid what is considered broad bipartisan support for a standalone relief package. Underpinning the urgency of the talks, major airlines announced plans last week to begin furloughing thousands of workers without new federal aid being received.

Sam’s Club adding 2,000 workers, more discount days for holiday shopping

Sam’s Club (NYSE:WMT) plans to add 2,000 permanent full-time workers to its fulfillment and distribution centers for the holidays, and give all fulfillment center hourly workers a $2/hour premium for the season. And despite a historical reliance on one-day discount events, it’s departing from those and offering more extended events to manage crowd control amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as marking its first holiday season filling online orders from warehouses via curbside pickup. An internal survey reveals 61% of members say they’ll shop online more this holiday season.

Samsung reports preliminary Q3 results, profits up 58% on the year

Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNNF, OTC:SSNLF) announced preliminary Q3 results with 66 trillion won in consolidated sales and operating income of 12.3 trillion won, topping the 10 trillion won consensus estimate. Sales were up 7% on the year and profits popped 58%. Samsung didn’t break out net income or unit sales in the guidance, but the quarter likely got a boost from the U.S. supply restrictions against smartphone rival Huawei.

Chevron surpasses Exxon as largest U.S. oil company, but both lag NextEra

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) closed yesterday with a higher market value than Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), marking the first time Exxon has been dethroned as America’s largest oil company since it began as Standard Oil more than a century ago. Chevron has a market cap of $142B compared to Exxon’s $141.6B. NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), the world’s biggest provider of wind and solar energy, beat both companies by closing the day at a $145.5B market value.

Live streaming company FuboTV prices upsized IPO, raising $183M

FuboTV (OTCQB:FUBO) will start trading today on the NYSE after pricing an upsized offering of 18.3M shares at $10 per share, the midpoint of the prior $9-11 range. The $183M offering increased the share count from 15M shares. FuboTV, which competes with Sling (NASDAQ:DISH) and YouTube TV (GOOG, GOOGL) had revenue of $150.8M last year (up 102% Y/Y) with a $246.9M net loss.

Regenerative medicine company Aziyo Biologics prices $50M IPO, trades Thursday

Trading starts today for commercial-stage regenerative medicine company Aziyo Biologics (AZYO), which priced a full-size IPO with 2.9M shares at $17 per share. The company’s competitors include Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), Terumo (OTCPK:TRUMF), NuVasive (NASDAQ:NUVA), and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV). Aziyo had 2019 sales of $42.9M (up 10% Y/Y) with a net loss of $11.9M.

JPMorgan Chase commits $30B to address racial wealth gap

America’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), says it’s committing $30B over five years to help bridge the racial wealth gap in the United States – the latest move from a large company to address racial justice in the months since protests erupted over a Minneapolis police officer’s killing of George Floyd. The initiative includes some $8B going toward funding an additional 40,000 mortgages for Black and Latino homebuyers, along with about $14B to finance affordable rental units. And it plans $2B in loans to small businesses in majority Black and Latino communities.

What else is happening…

Chevron (CVX) workers to reapply for jobs in global restructuring – Reuters.
U.S. railroads set record intermodal month in September, carloads down 9.7%.
Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB) to acquire Bisnode for $818M.
JPMorgan (JPM) aims to help clients align with Paris climate pact.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) loses lead astronaut for first Starliner crew flight.
DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) may sell or spin off non-utility units – Bloomberg.

Wednesday’s Key Earnings
Saratoga Investment (NYSE:SAR) +4% PM on strong Q2 earnings.

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
12:10 PM Fed’s Rosengren: “Economic Fragility: Implications for Recovery from the Pandemic”
1:00 PM Fed’s Kaplan Speech
1:00 PM Results of $23B, 30-Year Note Auction
2:00 PM Fed’s Bostic: “Empowering Workers to Recover Stronger”
2:30 PM Fed’s Barkin: “Investing in Rural America”
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
6:00 PM Fed’s Kaplan Speech

—————-

Good morning. Happy Wednesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets leaned up. Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Australia and Thailand did well; Malaysia and the Philippines were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are mixed and little changed. Other than Russia (down (1.5%), there are no notable movers. Futures in the States point towards a moderate gap up open for the cash market.

————— Online Course:Jason Leavitt’s Mini Masterclass in Trading —————

The dollar is flat. Oil is down; copper is up. Gold and silver are down. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Trump eases off his stimulus talks shutdown

President Donald Trump continues to take the markets on a wild ride, this time boosting U.S. stock index futures, saying he would still support specific forms of fiscal stimulus after calling an end to negotiations yesterday. Trump tweeted yesterday afternoon that another COVID relief bill would only go through after the election, sending stocks tumbling. Trump said a sticking point on aid for state and local governments amounted to a bailout of blue states. But he later tweeted support for a standalone bill for $1,200 stimulus checks, $25B in relief for airlines and paycheck protection program funds. Futures climbed steadily overnight. S&P futures (SPX) are up 0.8% and Nasdaq futures (NDX:IND) are up 0.6%. Major indexes in Europe are little changed, while Asia was mixed.

House panel urges tackling of tech ‘monopoly power’

The House antitrust subcommittee has released its report on Big Tech after a 16-month investigation, concluding that four tech giants – Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) – enjoy “monopoly power” and that antitrust laws need changes that might result in business separations. The near-450-page report features a swath of recommendations, including imposing structural separations and prohibiting dominant platforms from entering adjacent business lines – what subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline has called a “Glass-Steagall” law for the Internet.

Apple sets iPhone launch for next week

Apple (AAPL) has confirmed the iPhone event will happen on October 13 with the tagline “Hi, Speed” likely referring to the 5G smartphone lineup. The digital-only event starts at 10 AM PDT. The lineup will likely be called the iPhone 12 with some models bearing “mini” in the title for the first time. Potential pricing is likely to range from $659 for the Mini to $1,099 for the Pro Max.

GE failed to keep a sharp eye on its insurance business – WSJ

General Electric (NYSE:GE) disclosed yesterday that the SEC is considering civil action against the company for possible securities law violations. The SEC and Department of Justice have been investigating GE’s accounting for two years after the company disclosed a surprise $6.2B charge related to an insurance portfolio of long-term care policies and said it would pay $15B over seven years to fill a shortfall in reserves. Former GE employees have said the company was lax in its oversight of the insurance business and did not internally acknowledge that its results were getting worse, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Labor Department questions Microsoft, Wells Fargo plans to hire Black employees

The U.S. Labor Department has contacted Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), questioning the companies’ plans to hire more Black employees. Each company said in June that it planned to double Black leadership in the coming five years, but each last week received a letter from the agency overseeing federal contractors raising the question of whether the pledges violate federal race discrimination laws. Federal contractors are required to address areas of potential discrimination, and at least in Microsoft’s case the company has been asked to prove its actions are not illegal.

SpaceX nabs missile-warning system contract

SpaceX (SPACE) hauled in another notable defense contract, with the Pentagon issuing the company a $149M award from the Space Development Agency to help supply part of a proposed Pentagon missile-warning system. The SDA contract covers an early version of a small satellite system intended to identify and monitor a new generation of hypersonic missiles. SpaceX will use its Starlink assembly plant in Redmond, Washington to build four satellites fitted with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor. The system is seen as a countermeasure to potential new weapons from Russia and China. The contract is said to highlight the rapid gains made by SpaceX to gain credibility in emerging tech around advanced, low-orbiting sensor networks.

Universal pushes latest ‘Jurassic World’ into 2022

The hits keep coming – or rather, getting delayed – for the movie industry, with Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:CMCSA) the latest to push back a major release. The studio is moving Jurassic World: Dominion a year later, to June 2022. While that’s different from recent delays of in-the-can films that were set for fall releases (the film was scheduled for June 2021), it demonstrates the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic is playing with film production schedules. The latest Jurassic World sequel was about three weeks away from completing principal photography in the UK.

AT&T pushes forward with DirecTV sale, though bids are low – report

AT&T (NYSE:T) is moving forward with plans for an auction of DirecTV, The New York Post says, even though a first round drew bids less than a third of what the telecom giant paid for the satellite broadcaster five years ago. A handful of suitors has been invited to a second round of bidding, though the opening figures came in around 3.5 times EBITDA of about $4.5B – implying valuation of about $15.75B, the Post reports.

What else is happening…

Exxon (NYSE:XOM) planned for surging carbon emissions in leaked documents – Bloomberg. Southwest (NYSE:LUV) flight attendants push back against call for pay cuts. Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) Board Chairman will retire in December.

Tuesday’s Key Earnings
Levi Strauss (NYSE:LEVI) +11% PM on strong Q3 earnings.

Today’s Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $29B,10-Year Note Auction
1:00 PM Fed’s Bostic Speech
1:00 PM Fed’s Kashkari Speech
1:00 PM Fed’s Rosengren Speech
2:00 PM FOMC Minutes
2:00 PM Fed’s Williams Speech
2:15 PM Fed’s Kashkari “Economic Implications of Structural Racism”
3:00 PM Fed’s Williams Speech
3:00 PM Consumer Credit
4:30 PM Fed’s Evans: U.S.Monetary Policy

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Good morning. Happy Tuesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets closed mostly up. Japan, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand are leading. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mostly up. Poland, France, Turkey, Germany, Russia, Greece, Norway, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic are doing well. Futures in the States point towards a positive open for the cash market.

————— Online Course: Jason Leavitt’s Mini Masterclass in Trading —————

The dollar is down. Oil and copper are up. Gold is up; silver is down. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

U.S. House hints at Big Tech breakup

A House antitrust subcommittee report due this week on big tech – Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) – is hinting toward breaking up the tech giants, according to a lawmaker in the GOP minority. “This proposal is a thinly veiled call to break up Big Tech firms. We do not agree with the majority’s approach,” says Republican congressman Ken Buck in a draft response seen by Reuters. He says he shares Democratic concerns about the companies’ market power, but objects to requiring them to pursue a clear “single line of business.”

Cisco ordered to pay $1.9B in patent infringement case

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) has been ordered to pay $1.9B in a patent infringement case. The U.S. district judge said the case was “not a close call,” ruling that Cisco infringed four patents belonging to Centripetal Networks but didn’t infringe on a fifth. The award includes $755.8M in actual damages, multiplied by 2.5 to reflect “willful and egregious” conduct from Cisco plus prejudgement interest. Cisco plans to appeal.

Warner Bros. delays ‘The Batman’ to 2022; postpones ‘Flash,’ ‘Shazam 2’

Warner Bros. (NYSE:T) delayed Dune until October 1, 2021 and shifted The Batman starring Robert Pattinson until March 4, 2022. The studio pulled Black Adam (starring Dwayne Johnson) and Minecraft from the release calendar. The newest sequel to The Matrix film series made the rare leap forward, from April 1, 2022 to Dec. 22, 2021. The Flash will move from June to November in 2022, and Shazam 2 leaves November 2022 for June 2, 2023.

Southwest Airlines asks workers to accept pay cuts in lieu of furloughs

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) is asking its union workers to accept pay cuts for the first time, to help the company avoid its first furloughs and/or layoffs. The company wants pay cuts on the table to avoid furloughs/layoffs through the end of next year. The passing of an Oct. 1 deadline tied to $25B the industry received in aid means struggling airlines are considering layoffs, and Southwest rivals United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) and American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) have gone ahead with more than 32,000 cuts.

Australian miner Northern Star offers to buy Saracen Mineral in A$5.7B deal

Northern Star Resources (OTCPK:NESRF) has agreed to acquire smaller Australian rival Saracen Mineral Holdings (OTCPK:SCEXF) in a A$5.76B (US$4.14B) deal that will create a new top 10 global gold miner according to its ~A$16B in market valuation. Northern Star will own 64% of the combined entity and Saracen will own the remaining 36%. The deal comes after the two mining companies each acquired 50% stakes in Australia’s giant KCGM operation, commonly known as the Super Pit, Australia’s largest open cut gold mine.

What else is happening…

Halozyme (NASDAQ:HALO) expands license agreement with argenx (NASDAQ:ARGX) for Enhanze Technology.
Oil pipeline operators offer new discounts as demand drops – Bloomberg.
BHP (NYSE:BHP) buys Hess’ (NYSE:HES) Shenzi oil field stake in $505M deal.
Fortive (NYSE:FTV) spin-off Vontier (VNT) to join S&P 500.
Iovance (NASDAQ:IOVA) pushes lifileucel’s US application submission into next year.

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Goods and Services Trade
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
10:00 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey
10:40 Powell: “Global Reset? Economics, Business and Policy in the Pandemic”
12:00 PM Fed’s Harker: “Machine Learning”
1:00 PM Results of $52B, 3-Year Note Auction
2:00 PM Fed’s Bostic Speech
6:00 PM Fed’s Kaplan Speech

—————-

Good morning. Happy Monday. Hope you had a good weekend.

The Asian/Pacific markets posted solid gains. Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore all did great; the Philippines were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently doing great. The UK, Denmark, Poland, France, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Finland, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Israel, Austria, Sweden and Saudi Arabia are leading. Futures in the States point towards a moderate gap up open for the cash market.

————— BLOG:The Leavitt Brothers Trading List —————

The dollar is down. Oil is up; copper is down. Gold is flat; silver is up. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

U.S. Committee backs phased deployment of COVID-19 vaccines

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 locking certain areas back down to avert “second wave” of COVID-19

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.

China pursuing high-risk strategy to rush COVID-19 vaccines to market

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.

England drafting three-tier plan for harsher virus lockdown – report

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 gets image upgrade on TikTok deal

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.

Split of Instagram and WhatsApp a “nonstarter” – Facebook

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).

AT&T hoping to avoid indigestion over aggressive move into media

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).

Google delays in-app commissions in India until April 2022

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.

Regal Cinemas likely to shutter U.S. theaters

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.

What else is happening…

Lenders to take over shale fracker Sable Permian.

Trump briefly leaves hospital for drive-by to well-wishers.

Heavy duty truck demand roars back in September.

Today’s Economic Calendar
9:45 PMI Composite Final
10:00 ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
12:30 PM TD Ameritrade IMX

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