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Futures Rise Ahead Of Inflation Data As China Reopening Lifts Sentiment Again

Futures Rise Ahead Of Inflation Data As China Reopening Lifts Sentiment Again

US equity futures were set to rise for a second day as upbeat…



Futures Rise Ahead Of Inflation Data As China Reopening Lifts Sentiment Again

US equity futures were set to rise for a second day as upbeat sentiment ahead of tomorrow's key CPI print - which JPM gives 85% odds of pushing stocks at least 1.5% higher - lifted global markets despite a freak outage of key FAA advisory system this morning led to a nationwide ground halt for all domestic flights (until at least 9am) pre. Contracts on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 ticked up 0.1% as of 7:15am ET while Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index rose 0.8%. The FTSE 100 climbed within striking distance of a record high; Asian equities were supported by China lifting Covid restrictions. Among the top corporate news, Credit Suisse weighs cutting by half the bonus pool for 2022 after a turbulent year and Apple plans to start using its own custom displays in mobile devices as early as next year. Treasury yields dropped and the dollar gained for the second day in a row.

Among US premarket movers, airline stocks slipped in New York premarket as the failure of a key pilot notification system operated by the Federal Aviation Administration disrupted air travel. American Airlines Group Inc. fell 1.1% and United Airlines Holdings Inc. was down 0.6%. Delta Air Lines Inc. fell 0.8% as the FAA ordered a ground halt of all flights until at least 9am. Bed Bath & Beyond surged again and were on course for a third day of gains. World Wrestling Entertainment rose as much as 5.3%, extending a rally sparked by speculation that the company may sell itself. Chairwoman and co-CEO Stephanie McMahon announced she’s resigning from the company. Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • US biotech Prokidney surges 34% after early data from a mid-stage trial of its cell therapy for chronic kidney disease. Jefferies said the treatment has multi-billion dollar potential.
  • CarMax falls 4.8% after JPMorgan cut its recommendation on the used-car retailer to underweight from neutral, citing unfavorable risk-reward following recent outperformance.
  • JinkoSolar Holding ADRs rise 1.9% after Roth Capital upgrades the solar panel maker to buy, saying US policy improvements point to a stronger outlook.
  • Levi Strauss drops 1.5% as Citi downgrades to neutral from buy to reflect what it describes as a challenging US backdrop in the near to medium term.
  • Keep an eye on PTC and Autodesk as Berenberg begins coverage of both US design software companies with buy ratings, and initiates AspenTech at hold, saying all three have the potential to continue outperforming the industry in terms of growth.
  • Data and analytics providers could be in focus as Redburn says they will have a significant opportunity to capitalize on growing and increasingly complex risk factors in financial markets. The broker has buy ratings on MSCI (MSCI US), S&P (SPGI US) and London Stock Exchange (LSEG LN), though initiates Verisk (VRSK US) at sell and cuts Morningstar (MORN US) to neutral.

The gains of US stocks since the start of 2023 has surprised many (very bearish) strategists who believe that much of the advance is conditional on inflation easing, which would allow the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of rate hikes. And while hawkish comments on Monday by San Francisco and Atlanta Fed presidents put a chill on the rally, a lack of subsequent reinforcement by Chair Powell led to a sharp rally on Tuesday. The next test for the market comes on Thursday with the US inflation report which will determine if the Fed hikes by 25bps or 50bps on Feb 1, and it’s widely believed that a lower-than-expected reading would trigger further gains.  Investors are also closely watching technical levels as the S&P 500 Index nears its 200-day moving average.

“Tomorrow’s CPI event risk could be a decider where the S&P 500 can either break above its 200-day moving average, the 4,000 level and the downtrend line, or we head back to 3800,” says Gurmit Kapoor, a cross-asset sales trader at Aurel BGC.

While Powell didn’t directly comment on the Fed’s next steps at a forum in Stockholm, he did say that “restoring price stability when inflation is high can require measures that are not popular in the short term as we raise rates to slow the economy.”

Fed Governor Michelle Bowman said the central bank has more work to do to curb inflation, noting that further tightening is needed.

“We do expect an inflection in central bank policy later on this year,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. “More risk-tolerant investors can look to anticipate this turn by phasing into markets, seeking early winners from a global improvement in sentiment, and identifying beneficiaries from China’s reopening. “However, we don’t believe we have yet reached the inflection point in policy or economic growth, and as we enter 2023 we continue to favor a defensive tilt when adding exposure in both equity and fixed-income markets,” he said.

“The prospect of a less cloudy economic outlook in both Europe and the US after recession risks in both regions eased back, combined with the reopening of the Chinese economy, is providing strong support toward risk appetite from investors,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades. “The lack of clear hints from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell yesterday also contributed to keeping the bullish trading stance alive, and most traders will now look toward tomorrow’s US inflation print for further clues.”

In Europe, real-estate and mining stocks led a 0.4% gain in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index amid subsiding inflation worries. Miners were boosted by optimism China’s economic reopening will spur demand for metals. Among the top corporate news, Credit Suisse weighs cutting by half the bonus pool for 2022 after a turbulent year. Here are some of the biggest European movers on Wednesday:

  • Vestas shares jump as much as 5.6%, the most in a month, after being raised to buy at Jefferies, which says an inflection point has been reached for wind-turbine manufacturers
  • JD Sports shares jump as much as 6.5%, reaching April highs, after the sports retailer said it sees headline pre-tax profit toward the top end of current market expectations
  • TeamViewer shares gain as much as 7.3% after the software company reported preliminary 4Q billings. RBC says the firm posted “a surprisingly stronger- than-expected finish to the year”
  • Corbion rises as much as 11%, reaching an almost 11-month high, after Barclays upgrades to overweight in note on “renewed conviction” following the Dutch ingredients maker’s CMD
  • Bang & Olufsen rises as much as 4.5% on better-than-expected 2Q results. Nordnet says “B&O does what it can and maybe even a little more” despite a challenging environment
  • Grafton shares rise as much as 4.7% after it predicted its profit will be at the top end of analysts’ forecasts. Investec expects 2022 underlying consensus profit to edge up
  • Direct Line shares slump 30%, pulling peers down with it, after saying it no longer expects to pay a final dividend; news that is likely to be a “major shock” to the market, Jefferies says
  • Adyen declines as much as 3.4% after BofA cuts the stock to neutral, saying risks of further slowdown in e-commerce sales and margin compressions are not properly accounted for
  • Maersk shares fall as much as 4.1%, the most since November, after Goldman Sachs cut its recommendation to sell, anticipating a “great unwind” in air and sea freight markets
  • Eurofins Scientific declines as much as 4.9% and is among the worst performers on France’s SBF 120 index after two brokers cut their recommendations for the French laboratory group

Earlier in the session, Asia’s equity benchmark resumed its advance, led by gains in key regional markets including Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.9% to the highest level in almost five months before paring about half of its gain. Tencent and Alibaba were the top contributors, with tech and communication services among the major sectoral boosters.

“A lot of traders and investors see the US being closer to peak inflation — if we have not already passed that point. Then that as a corollary also indicates an end to global central bank rate hike cycles,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners.  Though Chinese shares dropped on Wednesday, with liquor giant Kweichow Moutai among the decliners, investor sentiment remains bullish amid further signs of fading regulatory risks in the tech sector as well as more support coming for property developers. The dramatic recovery in Chinese equities, with a gauge of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong up more than 40% in about two months, helped the broad Asian benchmark enter a bull market this week. The key gauge is outperforming US peers so far in 2023 boosted by optimism over China’s reopening and a weakening dollar.

“In general the Chinese markets have been a pretty tough place to invest for almost five years now. So that recovery we’ve seen from below, there’s still a lot of value, support in the marketplace,” David Perrett, co-head of Asian equities at M&G Investment Management, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV

In FX, the Bloomberg dollar gauge rose, after hovering near a seven-month low and the greenback was mixed against its Group-of-10 peers, though most currencies traded in relatively narrow ranges. The euro traded in a narrow $1.0726-1.0757 range

  • The Australian dollar led G-10 gains after solid inflation and retail sales prints for November reinforced expectations for a quarter-percentage-point interest rate hike at the Reserve Bank’s first meeting of the year next month. CPI advanced 7.4% seasonally adjusted from a year earlier, up from 6.9% in October and exceeding economists’ median estimate. Core prices, or the trimmed-mean gauge, climbed to 5.6% in November compared with a forecast 5.5%. Retail sales beat most estimates.
  • The yen was sandwiched between large options expiring on Wednesday. Japan’s 30-year bonds gained after an auction of this tenor met resilient demand and the central bank announced unscheduled debt purchases.
  • The Egyptian pound plunged 5% against the US dollar on Wednesday, after the International Monetary Fund said authorities were showing commitment to a flexible exchange rate.

In rates, treasury yields trimmed their advance from the previous session as yields shed up to 6bps as the curve bull-flattened and with the rate on 10-year debt slipping to below 3.58% as investors remained focused on the price outlook for the US. UK spreads flatter, leading core European rates higher with 2s10s, 5s30s tighter by 5.5bp and 2.5bp on the day; Bunds also bull-flattened and outperformed Treasuries as money markets eased ECB tightening bets before a German 10-year bond sale. Focus is also on scheduled ECB speeches. Japan’s 30-year bonds gained after an auction of this tenor met resilient demand and the central bank announced unscheduled debt purchases.

In commodities, oil reversed an earlier decline as traders weighed the outlook for stronger Chinese demand against a reported build in US crude stockpiles. Optimism over demand from China was evident in the iron ore market, with the steel-making ingredient rallying above $120 a ton in Singapore. Copper rose above $9,000 a ton for the first time since June, fueled by hopes of increased consumption by the world’s top user of the metal.

Looking to the day ahead now, it's a quiet day and data releases include US Mortgage applications. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the ECB’s Holzmann, Villeroy and De Cos.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 3,948.50
  • MXAP up 0.5% to 162.36
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 535.96
  • Nikkei up 1.0% to 26,446.00
  • Topix up 1.1% to 1,901.25
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 21,436.05
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,161.84
  • Sensex little changed at 60,124.03
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 7,195.34
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,359.53
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 448.06
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 2.25%
  • Euro up 0.1% to $1.0746
  • Brent Futures up 0.8% to $80.75/bbl
  • Brent Futures up 0.8% to $80.76/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,885.60
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.25

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The collective hive mind of Wall Street is backing a view that the euro rally is just getting started. With energy prices tumbling and calls for a region-wide recession falling to the wayside, a clear narrative is emerging that the worst of the economic damage is over and European assets are cheap
  • In Germany, Italy and Spain — three of the currency bloc’s top four economies — anxiety at inflation over the next year is close to or below the average since the euro was introduced in 1999, European Commission data show
  • Only a slowdown in core inflation can alter the ECB’s resolve to raise interest rates, according to Governing Council member Robert Holzmann
  • The ECB needs to be pragmatic as it raises interest rates in the coming months to get to a level by the summer that is sufficiently high to bring inflation back toward 2%, Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau said
  • The French economy continued to grow at the end of 2022 and should avoid a contraction in the first weeks of the year despite headwinds from surging energy prices, a Bank of France survey showed
  • China shouldn’t bail out the debt that local governments take off their balance sheets so as to discourage them from allowing hidden liabilities to snowball out of control, according to former Finance Minister Lou Jiwei
  • Japan’s Finance Ministry will likely issue sovereign bonds to fund decarbonization efforts from the latter half of fiscal year 2023 after assessing investor needs, Michio Saito, a senior official at the ministry, says in a TV Tokyo interview

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks initially tracked the advances on Wall Street after Fed Chair Powell refrained from any major policy rhetoric and as participants looked ahead to upcoming US CPI data with hopes of softening price growth. ASX 200 tested the 7,200 level to the upside with the index led by outperformance in the mining and materials sectors, while participants also digested better-than-expected Retail Sales and a pickup in monthly inflation metrics. Nikkei 225 gained as earnings trickled in with outperformance in Yaskawa Electric after growth in its top and bottom lines, while there was encouragement from news that Fast Retailing will boost wages by as much as 40%. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were firmer for a bulk of the session after the PBoC pledged support measures including for the property sector and boosted its short-term liquidity efforts ahead of next week’s Lunar New Year celebrations, although gains were capped in the mainland after the recent mixed loans and aggregate financing data.

Top Asian News

  • PBoC injected CNY 65bln via 7-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.00% and it injected CNY 22bln via 14-day reverse repos with the rate kept at 2.15% for a CNY 71bln net daily injection.
  • Analysts noted there is room for China to cut RRR and interest rates this year, while analysts also see room for a rate cut in the property sector, according to China Securities Journal.
  • BoJ offered to buy JPY 100bln in 1-3yr JGBs, JPY 100bln in 3-5yr JGBs, JPY 300bln in 5yr-10yr JGBs, JPY 200bln in 10yr-25yr JGBs and JPY 50bln in 25yr+ JGBs, while it also offered to buy an unlimited amount of JGBs at a fixed rate with maturities of 1yr-3yr and 3yr-5yr in an unscheduled announcement.
  • Stocks Climb Amid Optimism Over Inflation, China: Markets Wrap
  • Egypt Pound Plunges 5% in Test of Shift to Currency Flexibility
  • Russia to Restart FX Operations in Yuan Under Fiscal Rule
  • Philippine Finance Chief Sees Rate Hike Cycle Nearing End

European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.8%, with an easing in yields seemingly spurring a modest extension of opening gains. Sectors are primarily in the green, though Insurance names are pressured in sympathy with Direct Line while Retail-related stocks are supported after updates from the likes of JD Sports. US futures posting marginal gains, ES +0.2%, with the US docket particularly thin ex-supply ahead of Thursday's CPI. US FAA has reported a system equipment outage, all flights nationwide have been grounded, according to a source familiar with the situation, cited by NBC Washington reporter.

Top European News

  • ECB's Villeroy says they will need to be pragmatic on speed of hikes, will have to raise rates more in the coming months. Should aim to reach the terminal rate by the summer. Domestic inflation is likely to peak in H1, will avoid hard landing scenario.
  • ECB's Holzmann says rates will need to rise significantly further to reach levels that are sufficiently restrictive to ensure a timely return of inflation to target. Inflation is expected to subside but risks remain to the upside. There are no signs of de-anchored market expectations.
  • Activist Coast Capital Sells Vodafone Stake Within a Year
  • Russia to Sell Yuan From Wealth Fund as Oil Price Hits Budget
  • Ukraine Latest: Zelenskiy Says Russian War Won’t Turn to WWIII
  • Direct Line Shares Tumble as Insurer Cuts Dividend on Claims


  • DXY forms a foothold on 103.000 handle within a tight band post-Powell and pre-US CPI.
  • Aussie outperforms on perky inflation metrics, strong retail sales data and gains in iron ore prices, AUD/USD holds near 0.6900 and AUD/NZD rebounds from around 1.0800 to top 1.0850.
  • Euro retains grasp of 1.0700 handle, but Sterling sags around 1.2150 axis and Yen weakens after closing below a Fib to circa 132.75 and away from decent option expiries at 132.50.
  • PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.7756 vs exp. 6.7776 (prev. 6.7611)

Fixed Income

  • Core benchmarks continued to gain momentum throughout the morning with little clear sign of concession pre-supply and perhaps deriving some support from ECB remarks.
  • However, the rally has run out of steam with a sub-par German outing aiding the pullback, with Bunds and Gilts now sub 137.00 and 103.00 respectively.
  • Stateside, USTs have been following suit and it remains to be seen if the looming 10yr supply will influence broader action, an auction which follows Tuesday's strong 3yr.
  • UK DMO is to launch a new conventional Gilt maturing October 2053 in the week commencing January 23rd.


  • WTI and Brent have experienced a firmer start to the mid-week session, with the benchmarks posting upside of around USD 0.30/bbl within relatively narrow ranges that keeps the complex within WTD and recent parameters
  • US and allies are reportedly preparing the next round of sanctions on Russian oil, via WSJ; intending to cap the sales price of Russian exports of refined petroleum products.
  • Russian Kremlin, on possible losses from oil price caps, says there have been hardly any cases of the caps yet.
  • Chinese Commerce Ministry will continue to impose anti-subsidy tariffs on dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) imported from the US.
  • Standout mover has been LME Copper which eclipsed the USD 9k mark in an extension of yesterday’s price action after fairly contained/rangebound APAC trade for base metals.
  • Spot gold is modestly firmer and resides towards the top-end of a USD 1872-1886/oz range, which is a fresh multi-month high leaving the figure itself as resistance before the May 2022 USD 1909/oz peak.


  • Russia's ambassador to the US commented that the US training of Ukrainian troops on Patriot systems confirms Washington's de facto participation in the conflict and that the US administration's goal is to inflict the most damage on Russia on the battlefield by the hands of Ukrainians, according to Reuters.
  • Russian Kremlin says there is a positive dynamic in the military situation around Ukrainian town of Soledar Putin is open to discussions on Ukraine.
  • Russian Rights Commissioner says important ceasefire proposals have been made during her meeting with Turkish and Ukrainian colleagues in Turkey, via Reuters.
  • Russia and Iran are working on a new shipping corridor to bypass sanctions and are looking to work with India, according to Nikkei. ]

US Event Calendar

  • 07:00: Jan. MBA Mortgage Applications 1.2%, prior -10.3%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Morning from Helsinki where snow is on the ground. This is the start of a whistle stop 4 countries in 2 days 2023 outlook tour. I've been coming here around this week every year for about the last 25, apart from the last 2 due to Covid. So it's nice to have the old routine back. In the past I've landed in wild snow storms, seen the temperature hit -20c, seen piles and piles of snow, and yet everything always runs. Impressive! This year it's all fairly calm with the temperature just above zero.

Markets have also been relatively quiet over the last 24 hours as we await tomorrow's all important US CPI print. There was some speculation that remarks from Fed Chair Powell could inject some volatility into proceedings but overall markets turned steadily higher after his lack of commentary on the policy outlook at his panel in Stockholm.

Looking through the various moves yesterday, some of the biggest came from longer-dated core sovereign bond yields. For instance, yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +8.7bps to 3.619%, marking their biggest daily increase so far this year, and taking yields up to their highest level since the weak ISM services release last Friday. We have given back -3bps of that climb in Asia as I type. The rise yesterday though came as investors took out some of the dovish expectations for the Fed they’d been pricing over recent days, with the futures-implied rate for end-2023 up by +2.0bps on the day to 4.459%. Separately, we also heard from the Treasury Department that they were increasing the size of their T-bill auctions. It comes with many expecting that they’ll soon announce extraordinary measures in order to avoid exceeding the statutory cap imposed by the debt ceiling.

Sticking with the US Treasury Department, it was reported yesterday that Treasury Secretary Yellen has agreed to remain in her post after having been asked to by President Biden last month. This is a confirmation of Secretary Yellen’s own professed wished from back in November when she said she intended to stay through the entirety of Biden’s first term. This means at least one part of the upcoming debt ceiling negotiations will have some stability. Bloomberg reported that the Biden administration was preparing to turnover some cabinet-level positions now that the midterms are over.

Over in Europe it was a similar story, with yields on 10yr bunds (+8.0bps) seeing the largest increase on the day, along with smaller increases for OATs (+7.0bps) and BTPs (+3.6bps). And as in the US, the moves occurred with investors taking out some of the dovishness priced for the ECB, which got further support after the ECB’s Schnabel said that “interest rates will still have to rise significantly” and that “inflation will not subside by itself”.

When it comes to the Fed, we did hear from Chair Powell yesterday, but despite the anticipation he didn’t comment on the policy outlook. He was speaking on a panel on central bank independence, and stuck to that topic by defending the merits of an independent monetary policy. Interestingly, he acknowledged that “restoring price stability when inflation is high can require measures that are not popular in the short term as we raise interest rates to slow the economy.” Otherwise, he explicitly said that the Fed should “stick to our statutory goals and authorities”, and said that they would not be a “climate policymaker”. With little to go off from Powell, the focus will now turn to tomorrow’s US CPI release for December.

With Powell not taking a hawkish tone, equities drifted higher after Europe logged off. The S&P 500 ticked +0.70% higher, with both the NASDAQ (+1.01%) and the Dow Jones (+0.56%) also rising. The rally had a distinct risk-on tone with communications (+1.29%) and consumer discretionary (+1.26%) names outperforming while defensives like staples (-0.16%) and utilities (+0.04%) lagged. Having closed beforehand and catching up to the US reversal late Monday, European equities pulled back with the STOXX 600 down -0.59% on the day.

Asian markets are stronger this morning. As I type, the Nikkei (+1.02%) is leading gains followed by the Hang Seng (+1.01%), the KOSPI (+0.40%), the CSI (+0.22%) and the Shanghai Composite (+0.20%). Outside of Asia, stock futures in the US are fluctuating with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.04%) just above flat while those on the NASDAQ 100 (-0.05%) are trading fractionally lower. Meanwhile, European futures tied to the DAX (+0.55%) are catching back up.

Early morning data showed that inflationary pressures are yet to ease in Australia as CPI advanced +7.3% y/y in November (v/s +7.2% expected), up from a surprise pullback to +6.9% in October. The latest inflation reading is at its highest level in 30 years with housing costs being the main contributor to the annual increase. Separately, retail sales rebounded +1.4% m/m in November, buoyed by consumer appetite for Black Friday sales despite rising interest rates and high inflation. Market expectations were for a +0.6% gain as against October’s upwardly revised +0.4% rise. The Australian dollar (+0.39%) nudged higher against the dollar, trading at $0.69 on the prospect of more interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

In commodity news, copper prices are trading at the highest level since June inching towards $9,000 a ton as China’s exit from the Zero Covid policy enhanced the demand outlook of the commodity.

Elsewhere yesterday, the French government outlined a plan that would see the country’s retirement age rise to 64 by 2030, up from 62 at present. Moves to reform the pension system have long been an ambition of President Macron’s, but a previous attempt in his first term was postponed during the Covid-19 pandemic, and there remains opposition from trade unions and some other political parties. Macron’s party no longer has an absolute majority in parliament either, but they have made some concessions to the conservative Les Républicains to try and secure their votes.

In other news, the World Bank released their latest round of economic projections yesterday, with their global growth projection for 2023 now at +1.7%, marking a downgrade from their +3.0% forecast back in June. Those downgrades were mainly driven by the advanced economies, where growth is now seen at just +0.5% (vs. +2.2% in June), but the forecasts for emerging market and developing economies were also lowered, with this year’s growth now seen at +3.4% (vs. +4.2% in June).

Finally, there wasn’t a great deal of other data yesterday. One release in the US was the NFIB’s small business optimism index, which fell more than expected to 89.8 in December (vs. 91.5 expected). That’s the second-lowest reading in over a decade. Elsewhere, French industrial production grew by a faster-than-expected +2.0% in November (vs. +0.8% expected).

To the day ahead now, and data releases include Italian retail sales for November. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the ECB’s Holzmann, Villeroy and De Cos.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/11/2023 - 08:04

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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…



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….



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. 

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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.



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. 


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.

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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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