Stimulus push enters critical phase
The bipartisan push for a aerodynamic fiscal stimulus package inched forward over the weekend, with its backers reportedly preparing to break out the most disputable parts in order to allow the passage of urgent relief for small business and the unemployed. According to many reports, the bipartisan group that crafted a $908 billion package is planning to remove both provisions about liability protections for businesses and $160 billion in aid earmarked for state and local governments. That would allow $300 billion to be distributed in the form of $300 weekly unemployment benefits, and another $300 billion for small businesses, with the remainder assigned to healthcare providers and other entities. The most recent developments come as the number of people hospitalized by the virus hit a new record of over 109,000.
U.K. assets rebound as Brexit talks revive
The pound rebounded after the U.K. and European Union agreed to expand their negotiations on a post-Brexit free trade agreement yet again, after missing the latest self-imposed deadline on Sunday. Earlier in the day sterling was up 1.5% against the dollar at $1.3428 and up 1.2% against the euro at 1.1049. While the FTSE 100 was up 0.4%. The economy in the U.K. continues to deal with difficulties with the uncontrolled coronavirus. The capital London is set to be moved into the most restrictive of the government’s tiers for business and social gatherings, further depressing retail sales during the most intense period of the year.
U.S. Stocks set to open up higher
U.S. stock markets are poised to open higher later, on renewed hopes that some form of stimulus bill will pass through Congress before the end of the week, when the government’s spending authority is set to expire. Stocks in focus later are likely to include Pfizer and BioNTech, whose vaccine is set to begin distribution later Monday after winning emergency FDA authorization. Videogames publisher Electronic Arts is also well bid in premarket, up 2.3% after having an offer for U.K.-based games publisher Codemasters accepted. Apple may also be center of attention after violent scenes at a factory owned by one of its contract manufacturers in India, where workers were protesting low wages and poor conditions.
Alexion has a new owner
AstraZeneca agreed to buy Alexion, a specialist in drugs treating rare blood disorders, in a cash and stock deal worth $39 billion, the biggest deal in life sciences this year. Astra’s share price fell some 5% in London on Monday morning, on fears that the price which already offers a 43% premium to Alexion’s average price over the last month may end up being even higher if a rival bidder emerges. The deal may relieve worries about future patent cliff effects at Alexion, which relies overwhelmingly on two drugs, Soliris and Ultomiris, for its cash flows. AstraZeneca said the deal would raise earnings per share by 10% over the next three years, “materially” improving its ability to pay a higher dividend, as promised.