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Stimulus May Now Be In Reach As McConnell Says “We Can Do This”

Dec. 03, 2020 1:49 PM ET
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  • Stocks were higher to start Thursday with the Dow adding 130 points, or 0.4%.
  • The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.6% higher to a new record high.
  • “We are at a very critical time right now about being able to maintain the resilience of our health-care system,” Redfield said.

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Plus, initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic, Delta said the recent surge in COVID cases is hurting demand, and Facebook could soon be facing an antitrust lawsuit from 20 state attorneys general.

Stocks were higher to start Thursday with the Dow adding 130 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, while the Nasdaq traded 0.6% higher to a new record high.

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A fresh round of stimulus may be within reach. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backed the $908 billion bipartisan plan released earlier this week as the basis for negotiations as Congress scrambles to send aid to Americans before the end of the year. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly shot down the bipartisan plan after its release on Tuesday, he said on the Senate floor this morning that “Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree. We can do this.” Still, while the Democratic leadership is seeking the $908 billion package as a starting point, McConnell put forward his own roughly $500 billion plan and called for any deal to be similar to the one he unveiled. Speaking on the Senate floor following McConnell, Schumer said that the Senate Majority Leader “does not seem inclined to compromise.”

Initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last week. The Labor Department reported first-time claims for unemployment benefits of 712,000 for the week ended November 28. Continuing claims for the prior week declined 569,000 to 5.52 million, and while more people have moved into extended programs like Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, but such programs were put in place by the CARES Act and will expire by the end of the year leaving millions of Americans without government aid. “The plunge in initial claims does not refute the idea that the trend is rising; we expected a sharp fall because of the difficulty of adjusting for Thanksgiving,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Initial claims likely will rebound strongly next week, probably rising above the 800K mark for the first time in eight weeks.”

The U.S. surpassed two grim milestones: 100,000 currently hospitalized with the coronavirus and more than 2,800 COVID-19 deaths in a single day. The bleak records came as the nation reported more than 200,000 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, the second highest daily number, as the outbreak becomes more severe by the day. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said the next few months will be among “the most difficult in the public health history of this nation” as coronavirus cases spike. “We are at a very critical time right now about being able to maintain the resilience of our health-care system,” Redfield said. “The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our health-care system.”

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Delta Air Lines said that the recent spike in coronavirus infections is hurting demand for air travel, joining other airlines in warning about softening bookings as the pandemic intensifies. “We’ve always said this was going to be a choppy recovery, and that’s been true in recent weeks – like others in the industry, we’ve seen some slowing of demand and forward bookings as COVID cases have risen across the U.S.,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian in a memo to employees. While the weaker bookings are adding around $2 million in daily cash burn, pushing Delta’s cash burn to between $12 million and $14 million per day in the fourth quarter, Bastian said the carrier is “still on track” to break even by the spring, an estimate that has “been bolstered by continued positive developments with vaccines.”

And Facebook shares are down more than 1% this morning following reports that state attorneys general are preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant as soon as next week, with between 20 and 30 states joining in. The news comes as multiple outlets have reported the FTC is likely to file its own antitrust lawsuit against the company, though it remains unclear where the FTC may choose to bring a case, either in federal court or before its administrative law judge. Both the FTC and the state AGs have been investigating Facebook since last year and while the full scope of their investigations remain private, the company’s past acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp have long been considered a source for additional scrutiny.

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Aptevo Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: APVO): Aptevo Therapeutics shares gained as much as 17% yesterday after the company announced that it has expanded its ADAPTIR bispecific platform technology to include a new multi-specific platform technology, ADAPTIR-FLEX, and that the company has developed a new bispecific candidate, APVO442, designed to target PSMA (prostate specific membrane antigen) for the treatment of prostate cancer. “We are very excited about the launch of our second platform technology, ADAPTIR-FLEX, which expands our capability to design candidates with multiple new mechanisms of action, with potential best-in-class attributes,” said Mr. Marvin White, President and CEO of Aptevo. “Recently, we had two patients in cohort 6 of our phase 1 APVO436 clinical trial achieve complete remission, which strengthened our resolve around the capabilities of our ADAPTIR platform technology. Our new bispecific candidate APVO442, built on ADAPTIR-FLEX, is a unique T-cell engager targeting PSMA and CD3 for the treatment of prostate cancer, and we are optimistic about the potential outcomes for patients impacted by these tumors.”

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