Market Brief: July 10, 2020

A daily summary of news, analysis and data shaping the market.
Market Brief
Friday, July 10, 2020
Good News on Virus Treatment. Stocks ended higher in thin trade Friday, getting a lift from positive news on a coronavirus treatment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose around 369 points, or 1.4%, to end near 26,075, according to preliminary figures, while the S&P 500 advanced around 33 points, or 1%, to end near 3185. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose nearly 70 points, or 0.7%, to end near 10,617, marking its third consecutive record close. Stocks shed premarket weakness after drugmaker Gilead Sciences released potentially promising data about remdesivir that indicates the experimental Covid-19 drug may reduce deaths. For the week, the Dow finished 1% higher, the S&P 500 booked a gain of 1.8%, and the Nasdaq advanced 4%.
DJIA 26,075.30 369.21
S&P 500 3,185.04 32.99
NASDAQ 10,617.44 69.69
US 10-Year Note 0.64 0.04
Dollar Index 96.66 -0.04
Crude Oil 40.57 0.95
Gold 1,802.30 -1.50
Global Dow 2,891.48 4.11
Powered by Dow Jones Research, FactSet, Eurostat, SIX Financial Information.
Gilead Says New Analysis Suggests Remdesivir Reduces Covid-19 Deaths
Gilead Sciences said Friday that a new analysis suggests that its antiviral remdesivir was associated with a 62% reduction in deaths in patients with severe Covid-19. The company also cautioned that the finding needed to be confirmed in clinical trials.

The analysis compares outcomes from a trial that included no control group, and similar patients who did not participate in a trial but were sick at the same time and received standard of care treatments.

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BioNTech’s CEO Strikes Sober Note Amid Vaccine Scramble
The CEO of the German biotech BioNTech told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday morning that his company’s Covid-19 vaccine, which it is developing in collaboration with Pfizer, could be ready to submit for regulatory approval by the end of this year. That’s a less aggressive timeline than Pfizer has laid out in recent days.

Pfizer executives have said they hope to submit the vaccine for Food and Drug Administration approval by the fall. In an interview with Time magazine published Thursday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company should be able to submit the vaccine for FDA approval in September. And Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, said on an investor call on July 1 that the company planned to file for approval in Oct. 2020.

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Falling Services and Food Prices Keep Lid on Overall Inflation
Prices across the economy are falling, reflecting weak demand that is ongoing even as the U.S. economy is largely reopened.

The producer-price index, reflecting wholesale prices, unexpectedly fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in June from a month earlier, the Labor Department said Friday. The decline followed a 0.4% bounce in May, when businesses started to reopen from April’s coronavirus shutdown that dragged inflation to historic lows. Economists surveyed by FactSet anticipated an increase of 0.1% for June.

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American Airlines Might Cancel Some 737 MAX Orders
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that American Airlines is considering canceling some orders for the Boeing 737 MAX jet. That would be a fresh blow for the commercial aerospace giant and for the troubled jet.

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s newest model single-aisle jet and has been grounded world-wide since mid-March 2019, following two deadly crashes over a five-month span. American has ordered 100 MAX jets and has received 24. About 300 MAX orders have been canceled so far in 2020, most by foreign airlines. That makes the possible American Airlines cancellation sting a little more.

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New Virus Wave Poses Risk to Oil Rebound
The International Energy Agency said on Friday in its monthly report that oil demand was higher than expected in the second quarter of the year, but that rising Covid-19 cases in parts of the world threaten the second-half recovery.

The IEA increased its prediction for global oil demand this year because the second quarter was not quite as bad as feared. The agency now predicts that demand will fall by 7.9 million barrels this year to 92.1 million barrels a day, an improvement of 400,000 barrels from its last forecast.

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Carnival Lost $6.07 a Share in Second Quarter
Carnival reported a second-quarter loss of $6.07 a share, down from per-share profit of 65 cents a year earlier, as revenue plunged amid the pandemic.

These results for the largest cruise operator didn’t come as a big surprise, as the company previewed its second-quarter results last month. The company’s fiscal second quarter ended in May. It shut down its operations in mid-March due to the coronavirus, meaning it didn’t have many sailings during the quarter. Its quarterly revenue totaled $740 million, versus $4.8 billion in the corresponding period a year ago.

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How the Coronavirus Contraction Is Unlike the Past 2 Recessions: Help Is Still Wanted
The coronavirus contraction has upended America’s job market, but in some crucial respects, it’s done less damage than even the comparatively mild downturn of the early 2000s. If the economy doesn’t turn down again—admittedly, an increasingly big “if” as the virus continues to rage out of control—that suggests the prospects for a relatively rapid labor recovery are much better than in the past.

Optimism may seem strange, given the damage that has occurred since February. Including unemployed people who were misclassified as “employed with unpaid absences,” 30 million Americans lost their jobs in just two months, driving up the real unemployment rate to 22% in April.

The subsequent rebound has been steep and quick, but it’s been confined to a subset of the total labor market. As of mid-June, just over half of those who had been on temporary layoff or had been wrongly counted as “employed” had gotten rehired. That has brought down the true unemployment rate to 14%, which is still extraordinarily high, but also meaningfully lower than it was just two months earlier.

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Harley-Davidson to Cut 700 Jobs as Part of Larger Restructuring Plan
Harley-Davidson said Thursday it will cut nearly 12% of its global workforce world-wide as a result of a restructuring effort by new CEO Jochen Zeitz.

The struggling motorcycle manufacturer based in Milwaukee said an overhaul in its operating model will result in costs of about $42 million in the second quarter. The company also announced its 17-year veteran executive John Olin stepped down as chief financial officer. Harley-Davidson will eliminate 700 total positions. Of those, 500 are current employees and 200 are open positions, a spokesperson told Barron’s.

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Alibaba Lays Out Its Plan to Conquer the Digital World
Alibaba Group Holding delivered its first 20-F filing for fiscal 2020—an annual report used by foreign companies trading in the U.S. It was the first time that its CEO, Daniel Zhang, delivered a letter in his capacity as chairman, and it seems to signal a continuation of the company’s previous strategies, notes Citigroup.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma stepped down from his role as executive chairman last year, appointing Zhang to take over the position in September. He has been CEO since 2015. Citi analyst Alicia Yap noted that Zhang, in the letter, highlighted digitization as the new norm, playing directly into the company’s wheelhouse as it provides services for global e-commerce and has become “the essential infrastructure for businesses pursuing digital transformation across all industries.”

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Lumber Prices Rise Sharply Despite Covid-19
Lumber prices made a big comeback in the second quarter, with a nearly 60% jump for the period more than making up for a loss in the first three months of the year, as home builders rebounded from the initial effects of the pandemic.

Lumber prices and their rapid rise, particularly in the three weeks ended on July 2, have exposed an industry that was or is “underinventoried to meet current demand,” says Greg Kuta, president of lumber broker Westline Capital Strategies.

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