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Futures Rebound On Tech Rally Despite China Covid Surge Fears

Futures Rebound On Tech Rally Despite China Covid Surge Fears

US index futures rebounded on Thursday from another painful selloff the day…

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Futures Rebound On Tech Rally Despite China Covid Surge Fears

US index futures rebounded on Thursday from another painful selloff the day earlier, as technology shares rallied on the second to last trading day of what’s been a brutal year for financial markets, even as growing concerns over a surge in China’s Covid cases snuffed optimism over the nation’s reopening of its border. At 7:45am S&P futures traded 0.4% higher to 3,823 while Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.6% to 10,837 following gains for Asian tech stocks earlier amid signs China is easing a regulatory crackdown. Treasuries were steady and the Bloomberg dollar index declined.

In premarket trading, Tesla climbed more than 3% in, with tech giants including Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. also among the biggest gainers. Tesla rose after Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said a de-rating in the electric vehicle company’s stock has created an opportunity, and even though Jonas lowered his price target to $250 from $330, he stuck to an overweight rating. Among other EV stocks: Rivian Automotive +2.6%, Lucid Group +2.8%, Hyzon Motors +6.4%, Cenntro Electric Group +8.1%, Mullen Automotive +7.8%. Jonas wrote that his new target reflects “lower pricing and lower valuation of adjacent businesses;” and expects 2023 will be “a ‘reset’ year for the EV market, where the last 2 years of demand exceeding supply will be substantially inverted to supply exceeding demand.”

And speaking of Tesla a quick look at yesterday's record, blowout put-to-call ratio suggests that much of the recent plunge in TSLA stock may have been due to a surge in 0DTE put buying on TSLA which has helped send the stock tumbling in an illiquid environment as the negative gamma forced dealers to short the stock the more it slumped.

Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • Getaround rises 3.3% as the stock was initiated with an overweight rating and $1.50 PT at Piper Sandler, with the broker saying the platform looks well-positioned to provide its peer- to-peer car-sharing marketplace.
  • Gaotu Techedu falls 4.6% in US premarket trading after China said it will tighten oversight of private tutors that offer non-curricular services to primary and middle school students, including rules on fee charges and operating time.
  • Keep an eye on Skechers shares after it was started with a neutral rating and $42 PT at Piper Sandler, which says the opportunities and challenges the footwear firm faces look balanced and mean its current valuation is fair.

Global equities have lost a fifth of their value in 2022, almost $20 trillion in market cap, the largest decline since 2008 on an annual basis, and an index of global bonds has slumped 16% amid sticky inflation and rising interest rates.

Thursday's tech rally was a small ray of light as the year draws to a close with investors again focused on risks arising from the the spread of Covid-19. The US said it would require inbound airline passengers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test prior to entry. In Italy, health officials said they would test arrivals from China after almost half of passengers on two flights from China to Milan were found to have the virus.

Amid fears that China's aggressive, accelerated reopening may lead to another global wave of covid infections, China’s CDC top epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said that covid outbreaks have peaked in Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu, though the situation in Shanghai, Chongqing, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan remains serious. He added that the virus is still spreading fast in Henan, Jilin and Fujian provinces, and warned of the disease spreading during Lunar New Year, with many expected to travel around the holiday. Separately, Liang Wannian, China’s senior official overseeing epidemic response, says the country is strengthening the monitoring of the Covid variant and will report to the World Health Organization if it discovers any new variant.

Hong Kong removed limits on gatherings and testing for travelers in a further unwinding of its last major Covid rules, offering a boost to the global economy but sparking concerns it would amplify inflation pressures and prompt US policy makers to maintain tight monetary settings.

“Investors are going into 2023 with a cautious mindset, prepared for more rate hikes, and expecting recessions around the globe.” said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda Europe Ltd. “And then there’s China and its u-turn on Covid prevention. It’s been quite the shift from fighting every case to living with the virus and that creates enormous uncertainty for the start of the year.”

Going back to markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 index erased losses to trade little changed, with gains for technology stocks offsetting declines for retail and consumer-focused shares. The Stoxx 600 index was flat after erasing a drop of 0.6%. The gauge, which is down 12% this year, posted declines earlier in the session, as US and Italy joined an increasing number of nations requiring Covid tests for travelers from China. European airline stocks dropped on, leading the Stoxx 600 Travel & Leisure Index lower, amid concerns over the spread of Covid-19 from China. Long-haul carriers Deutsche Lufthansa -4.1%, IAG -1.7%, Air France-KLM -1.3%.

Investors are worried about any potential emergence of a new variant of the virus which might bring restrictions back onto the table and “hammer growth,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined, heading for their worst annual loss since the 2008 financial crisis, as growing concerns over a surge in China’s Covid cases snuffed optimism over the nation’s reopening of its border.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 1.1%, pushing its annual slump to about 20% in the final trading week of 2022. Tech stocks including Alibaba and Samsung Electronics were among the biggest individual drags on the benchmark. South Korea’s Kospi was the worst performer with a near 2% slump, while gauges in Hong Kong also underperformed. 

“Investors are starting to pay more attention to the spreading virus given that the pandemic could set back the pace of economic recovery in 2023,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia. “Investors may have prematurely priced in that the worst was over.”  Tencent, Asia’s biggest social media and gaming company, was the best performer on the Hang Seng Tech Index after China approved its new game titles in the latest sign Beijing is easing up crackdowns on the sector.  

Japanese stocks declined for a second day, following US peers lower as investors continued to worry about the spread of Covid-19 on China’s reopening. The Topix Index fell 0.7% to 1,895.27 as of 3 p.m. Tokyo time, while the Nikkei declined 0.9% to 26,093.67. Out of 2,162 stocks in the index, 1,231 rose and 833 fell, while 98 were unchanged. “The rise in Covid-19 infections in China could cause supply chain problems in the short term, which could lead to inflationary concerns,” said Tomo Kinoshita, a global market strategist at Invesco Asset Management. “Japanese stocks declined less than the US or Europe as China’s reopening has some positive effects on Japanese companies that are exporters.”

Australian stocks dropped to a seven-week low; the S&P/ASX 200 index falling 0.9% to close at 7,020.10, marking a third straight session of declines. The benchmark settled at its lowest since Nov. 10. Energy stocks led sector losses on weaker oil prices. Real estate shares trading ex-dividend also weighed. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed at 11,538.45

In FX, the US dollar fell against most Group-of-10 currencies while Treasuries rallied as investors monitored the spread of Covid-19 within and from China. The Japanese yen bounced after two days of losses. US employment data in focus later. The yen led Group-of-10 currency gains after performing the worst on Tuesday and Wednesday. USD/JPY fell as much as 0.7% to 133.47, the biggest drop in more than a week. Swiss franc is the other outperformer amid concern over the spread of coronavirus, with the US and Italy among countries requiring Covid tests for travelers from China. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index declined 0.3%, with the greenback only higher against some risk-sensitive currencies including the Australian dollar and Norway’s krone. Traders will be watching data on US initial jobless claims later Thursday for more clues on the Federal Reserve’s policy path.

In rates, Treasury yields were mixed in early US trading with the curve modestly flatter as the short end cheapens by ~1bp. The 10-year TSY is lower by 1bp at 3.873%, but remains near the highest since mid-November and just above 50-DMA level; most euro-zone 10-year yields are higher ~1.5bp on the day; UK yields are leading the way higher with 10-year up 4bps. Treasury market was firmer overnight until a selloff in UK gilts dented global bond market sentiment. Final coupon auction cycle of the year concludes with $35b 7-year note sale at 1pm New York time; Wednesday’s 5-year saw a modest tail, after cheapening from session highs.  

Elsewhere in markets, oil dipped amid thin liquidity as investors weighed the fallout from a Russian ban on exports to buyers that adhere to a price cap.

Looking at today's calendar, it's a thin docket with just initial (exp. 225K) and continuing claims (exp. 1.690MM) on deck.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 3,820.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 427.43
  • MXAP down 0.6% to 154.83
  • MXAPJ down 0.7% to 503.83
  • Nikkei down 0.9% to 26,093.67
  • Topix down 0.7% to 1,895.27
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.8% to 19,741.14
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.4% to 3,073.70
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 61,097.06
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.9% to 7,020.06
  • Kospi down 1.9% to 2,236.40
  • Brent Futures down 2.0% to $81.59/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,810.19
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.22% to 104.23
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 2.48%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.0639
  • Brent Futures down 2.0% to $81.59/bbl

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The US and Italy joined an increasing number of nations requiring Covid tests for travelers from China, with concerns mounting over the risk of any new variants emerging from the surge in infections in the country of 1.4 billion
  • Covid outbreaks have peaked in Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu, though the situation in Shanghai, Chongqing, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan remains serious, China’s CDC top epidemiologist Wu Zunyou says in a briefing
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow won’t enter into negotiations with Ukraine to end the war, even after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is working on a fresh round of job cuts that will be unveiled in a matter of weeks, Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said in his traditional year-end message to staff
  • The Bank of Japan announced two additional rounds of unscheduled bond-purchase operations, fighting back against traders betting it will further relax its yield-curve control policy

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: Dec. Continuing Claims, est. 1.69m, prior 1.67m
  • 08:30: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 225,000, prior 216,000
Tyler Durden Thu, 12/29/2022 - 08:16

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.

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Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 

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This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

More Travel:

With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

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