News

COVID-19

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New York City is shuttering schools to try to stop the renewed spread of the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday in a painful about-face for one of the first big U.S. school systems to bring students back to classrooms this fall.

The nation’s largest public school system will halt in-person learning Thursday, sending more than 1 million children into all-online classes, the mayor said.

The Democrat said at an afternoon news conference that plans were being made to bring in-person learning back as quickly as possible if the infection rate drops, though he cautioned that the bar to return would be higher than it was to close down. He added that schools would definitely remain closed through Thanksgiving.


Reuters | Equities.com |

Global debt is expected to soar to a record $277 trillion by the end of the year as governments and companies continue to spend in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute of International Finance said in a report on Wednesday.

The IIF, whose members include over 400 banks and financial institutions across the globe, said debt ballooned already by $15 trillion this year to $272 trillion through September. Governments - mostly from developed markets - accounted for nearly half of the increase.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. homebuilding increased more than expected in October, suggesting the housing market continues to be sustained by record low mortgage rates even as the economic recovery shows signs of strain amid a resurgence in new COVID-19 infections.

The report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday followed on the heels of data on Tuesday showing the smallest gain in retail sales in October since the recovery from the pandemic started in May. The economy is slowing as the boost from fiscal stimulus diminishes.


Reuters | Equities.com |

Target Corp blew past analyst expectations for quarterly profit and sales on Wednesday as more Americans used the retailer’s quick-delivery services to buy everything from electronics to home goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shares were up nearly 2.3% at $166.75 at 10am ET.

Comparable digital sales rose 155% in the third quarter, the company said, driven largely by same-day services like Drive up, Shipt or straight in-store pick ups, with more than 95% of sales being fulfilled through stores.

Target, which operates nearly 1,900 stores, has emerged as one of the big winners from the disruption caused by the coronavirus health crisis as investments in its private label and online business, including faster shipments, have paid off.


Reuters | Equities.com |

Final results from Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine trial showed its shot had a 95% success rate and two months of safety data, paving the way for the drugmaker to apply for an emergency use authorization within days, it said on Wednesday.

The vaccine’s efficacy rate, the highest of any candidate in late-stage clinical trials so far, was welcomed by experts who had already said that interim results showing Pfizer’s shot was over 90% effective were very encouraging.

Pfizer said there were 170 cases of COVID-19 in its trial of more than 43,000 volunteers and only eight people with the disease had been given the shot rather than a placebo, meaning the vaccine had a 95% efficacy rate. Of the 10 people who developed severe COVID-19, one had received the vaccine.


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Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator and third in the line of presidential succession, said Tuesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Grassley, 87, had announced earlier Tuesday that he was quarantining after being exposed to the virus and was waiting for test results. On Tuesday evening, he tweeted that he had tested positive.

“I’ll b following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. I’m feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home,” he tweeted.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. hospitals, weighing high demand and tight supplies, said they may limit use of a new Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N antibody drug to COVID-19 patients with multiple risk factors for serious illness or to those whose immune systems have not begun to fight the infection.

The treatment, bamlanivimab, was given U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) last week by the Food and Drug Administration for helping newly-diagnosed, high-risk patients avoid hospitalization.

“There will be a lot of pressure on physicians,” said Dr. Adarsh Bhimraj, an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic and chair of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s guidelines panel, which is still discussing its recommendations for the drug.


Reuters | Equities.com |

Saudi Aramco was set to raise $8 billion from a five-part bond deal on Tuesday as the world's largest oil producer seeks cash after low oil prices dented its finances.

The move is part of an onslaught on international debt markets by Gulf issuers seeking to plug finances hit by the pandemic and weak oil prices, which has pushed regional issuance past last year’s record to surpass $100 billion.

Aramco, which reported a 44.6% slump in third-quarter profit, needs the money to pay dividends of $37.5 billion for the second half of 2020 and fund its $69.1 billion purchase of 70% of Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC).


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Worries about the worsening pandemic pushed Wall Street to tap the brakes Tuesday on its big November rally, which had vaulted stocks back to record heights.

Treasury yields also dipped after a report showed U.S. shoppers spent less at retailers last month than economists expected. The numbers underscore how the coronavirus pandemic is worsening and threatens to drag the economy lower, at least in the near term.

Stocks that stormed higher this month on hopes that a vaccine or two may get the global economy back to normal next year receded amid the worries.

The S&P 500 fell 17.38 points, or 0.5%, from its record to close at 3,609.53. It was the first loss for the index in three days.


Reuters | Equities.com |

Home Depot Inc said on Tuesday it will spend about $1 billion more on employees' wages annually as the home improvement chain benefits from a sustained surge in demand for tools and building materials due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home Depot's blue-chip stock, up 28% this year, fell 2.5% in early trading, despite the company beating quarterly sales and profit estimates.

Demand for home improvement produ...