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S&P Futures Inexplicably Dip As “Magical, Non-Stop Rally” Reverses

S&P Futures Inexplicably Dip As "Magical, Non-Stop Rally" Reverses



S&P Futures Inexplicably Dip As "Magical, Non-Stop Rally" Reverses Tyler Durden Thu, 09/03/2020 - 08:06

After nine consecutive days of record highs and after closing higher on Wednesday for the ninth time in the past 10 sessions, S&P futures have done something they haven't done in a long time: following a "magical, non-stop rally in stocks continues" as Adam Button of ForexLive dubbed it, futures are down this morning, trading down 0.5% at session lows as of 730am at 3,564, down some 20 points from their all time high hit yesterday.

Chip makers including Nvidia fell in the premarket while banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America on the back of a Deutsche Bank upgrade and as the rotation away from tech stocks looked set to extend. Shares of Apple, Adobe, Nvidia and Netflix, all of which have soared more than 70% this year, slipped about 2% each in premarket trading, following yesterday's declines as the gamma trade appears to be unwinding. Tesla tumbled 6.6%, falling for the third session after announcing a $5 billion stock offering. PVH Corp rose 2.5% after Calvin Klein owner posted a surprise quarterly profit, boosted by strong online demand for comfortable and casual clothing during the coronavirus-led shift to work from home.

"What we are seeing is a little bit of profit-taking now in the big tech sector as people look to rebalance their portfolios going into the last part of this year," Ann Berry, partner at Cornell Capital LLC, said on Bloomberg TV. "Folks are trying to go back to basics a little bit as we continue to see these surges and the topping out in the value of the market right now."

The perplexing decline in Emini futures took place even as European shares jumped the most in a month on the back of continued EURUSD weakness (the pair dipped to 1,1790 after hitting 1.20 two days ago) and after France introduced new stimulus measures to drive the economy and spur job creation.

France plans to spend €100 billion to pull its economy out of a deep coronavirus-induced slump, signalling renewed efforts by President Emmanuel Macron to push through a pro-business reform agenda. The stimulus equates to 4% of GDP, meaning France is plowing more public cash into its economy than any other big European country as a percentage of GDP, an official said ahead of its formal launch later on Thursday. France’s recession, marked by a 13.8% second quarter GDP contraction that coincided with the country’s COVID-19 lockdown and is set to generate an 11% drop in 2020 as a whole, has also been one of Europe’s deepest.

As a result, France’s CAC 40 Index surged as much as 2% amid a broad rally in Europe that showed the stock market advance is continuing to expand beyond the tech sector, while the euro dipped for a third day on signals the European Central Bank is concerned about the currency’s strength (see "With A Record Number Of Bulls, The Euro Is Ripe To Tumble After "Euphoric Run"). Meanwhile, the French Service PMI dipped from 51.9 in July to 51.5 in August, missing expectations of 51.9, even as Germany posted a modest beat (51.9 vs exp. 51.6, last 51.6).

Commenting on the European PMIs, Goldman said that the Euro area composite PMI was revised up by 0.3pt from its flash estimate of 51.6 for August. This reflected a sizeable upward revision to the German composite PMI (concentrated in the service sector), which more than offset the downward flash-to-final revision in France and (implicitly) elsewhere in the Euro area. Both the Italian and Spanish composite PMIs came in below expectations, especially the latter, declining by 3.0 and 4.4pt respectively. The August PMIs across the Euro area indicate a slowdown in the pace of recovery—with a potential contraction in Spain, but also Italy—after a notably stronger-than-expected initial rebound from the April trough.

The Stoxx 600 Travel & Leisure Index climbed to the highest since June 10, while the Auto & Parts Index reaches best level since June 8, amid optimism surrounding the quest for a Covid-19 vaccine, fresh economic stimulus in France, and a weaker euro boosting exporters. SXTP up 2.7% leading the Stoxx 600; IAG (+6%), Carnival (+5.7%) and Easyjet (+5.7%) lead SXTP; Peugeot (+4.9%), Renault (+4.8%), Fiat Chrysler (+3.8%) lead SXAP; The first results showing whether a vaccine can stop people from getting the virus could come by mid-September from AstraZeneca, according to Airfinity, an analytics company that tracks drug trials, while two other contenders may also have initial data before a key FDA meeting on Oct. 22

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were little changed, with energy falling and IT rising, after rising in the last session. Markets in the region were mixed, with South Korea's Kospi Index and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rising, and Jakarta Composite and Shanghai Composite falling. The Topix gained 0.5%, with Fukushima Bank and Solxyz rising the most. China's Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.6%, with Bohai Ferry Group Ltd and Jilin Forest Ind posting the biggest slides.

Global stock have been rising on continued central bank stimulus as well as renewed hopes for a coronavirus vaccine, fueling a catch-up trade in markets that had lagged the U.S. The S&P 500 jumped 1.5% yesterday to hit another record and Japanese stocks are trading at the highest since February. Data on Thursday is likely to show the number of Americans filing for weekly jobless claims remained elevated in the latest week, but dipped below the 1 million mark. Separately, reading on ISM’s services index probably edged lower to 57 in August from 58.1. The critical monthly payrolls report by the Labor Department is set for release on Friday. Signs that the U.S. economic recovery is faltering has raised concerns about depleting federal aid. At the same time, investors are hopeful that the next fiscal coronavirus relief bill could be unveiled in the coming days.

“Markets continue to show unrestrained faith in the capacity of central bank liquidity to chart a relatively smooth path for the global economy out of the Covid challenges,” said Stephen Miller, investment strategist at GSFM.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - after halting eviction - told states to prepare for a Covid-19 vaccine to be ready by Nov. 1, an aggressive goal that suggests availability just before the presidential election.  Anthony Fauci warned of a potential surge in American cases from the coming long holiday weekend.

In FX, the dollar rose against G-10 peers, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbing a third day. The euro headed for the biggest three-day decline since June following signals that the ECB is concerned about the strength of the common currency. The pound dropped a second day against the greenback. Norway’s krone and the New Zealand dollar led losses among G-10 currencies.

In rates, Treasury yields were little changed across a steeper curve, off session highs reached during European morning. Yields were cheaper by less than 1bp across the curve, with 2s10s and 5s30s curves marginally steeper; 10-year yields around 0.655% with bunds outperforming and gilts lagging, each by ~1bp. At 11am, the Treasury Department will announce sizes of next week’s three coupon auctions; based on its forecasts in Aug. 5 refunding announcement, expectation is for $50b 3-year new issue (vs $48b last month), $35b 10-year reopening (vs $29b in previous cycle) and $23b 30-year reopening (vs $19b).

In commodities, WTI and Brent continued to drift lower, with Brent down more than 1%, partly weighed on by the firmer USD, while traders kept an eye on the supply side of the equation as Gulf of Mexico production comes back online, while comments from Russian Energy Minister Novak yesterday, regarding oil demand at ~90% of pre-pandemic levels and calling on OPEC to take this into account, hinted at a potential proposal of early tapering of the OPEC+ output curbs. Gold dropped for the third day on the back of continued dollar strength, further decoupling from real rates.

Looking at the day ahead, the ISM services index from the US will be the highlight, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims and the July trade balance from the US. Central bank speakers today include BoE Governor Bailey as well as Deputy Governor Ramsden, along with the ECB’s Schnabel and the Fed’s Evans. Campbell Soup, Ciena, Broadcom and DocuSign are among companies reporting earnings.

Market Wrap

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 3,575.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.1% to 375.28
  • MXAP up 0.08% to 174.30
  • MXAPJ down 0.1% to 577.19
  • Nikkei up 0.9% to 23,465.53
  • Topix up 0.5% to 1,631.24
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.5% to 25,007.60
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,384.98
  • Sensex up 0.02% to 39,093.85
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.8% to 6,112.61
  • Kospi up 1.3% to 2,395.90
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.5 bps to -0.468%
  • Euro down 0.3% to $1.1823
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 6.3 bps to 0.846%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.5 bps to 0.346%
  • Brent futures down 1.4% to $43.81/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.4% to $1,934.71
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changedat at 92.87

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The euro area’s recovery ran out of steam midway through the third quarter, with gauges of activity pointing to contractions in Italy and Spain. While manufacturing output rose markedly in August, the larger services sectors aw only marginal growth, according to an IHS Markit report. Orders increased at a slower pace, job cuts continued and confidence about the outlook eased
  • Boris Johnson’s officials are urgently working to avert a major border crisis when the U.K. leaves the European Union’s trade regime. According to a leaked document, ministers are asking hauliers and other industry groups for help to avoid chaos at the border when the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states to get ready for coronavirus vaccine distribution as early as November 1 -- days before the presidential election
  • Coronavirus cases surpass 26 million globally while deaths exceed 863,000
  • Sanofi started human trials for its vaccine, aiming for results in December and planning to then move on quickly to late-state trials
  • French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a 100 billion-euro ($118 billion) stimulus plan to restart the country’s economy after the pandemic, including wage subsidies, tax cuts for businesses and funding for green projects

A quick stroll across global markets, courtesy of NewsSquawk

Asian equity markets ultimately closed mixed after a predominantly positive session following the firm handover from US peers in which the S&P 500 and Nasdaq extended on record highs and DJIA climbed back above 29,000 amid dovish central bank rhetoric and vaccine optimism. ASX 200 (+0.8%) gained from the open with the index led by its top-weighted financials sector and sentiment underpinned by tax cut hopes after Treasurer Frydenberg announced that the government plans to bring forward tax reductions. Nikkei 225 (+0.9%) found support from a favourable currency and after Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga confirmed he will run in the party leadership race and will continue with Abenomics policies, while index heavyweight Fast Retailing was also buoyed after its domestic same-store sales surged 29.8% last month. Hang Seng (-0.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.6%) were initially positive after stronger than expected data in which Caixin Services PMI topped estimates and Caixin Composite PMI improved, although upside was later reversed following a relatively tepid liquidity effort by the PBoC which resulted to a daily net injection of CNY 20bln and due to US-China tensions after the US imposed fresh restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the US. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher as they tracked recent gains in T-notes despite the strength seen in equity markets, with prices kept afloat amid declining yields and following marginal improvement in the 30yr JGB auction results.

Top Asian News

  • Investors Pile Into OCBC’s Biggest Dollar Bond in Six Years
  • Hong Kong Media Mogul Jimmy Lai Acquitted in Intimidation Case
  • China Affirms Right to Approve Tech Deals as TikTok Sale Looms
  • Singapore’s MAS to Boost Access to Dollar Funding for Banks

European equity markets continue on their upwards trajectory (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.2%) in a continuation of yesterday’s price action and following a firm handover from Wall Street, although a divergence is seen between European and US equity futures, with the latter potentially weighed on by the stalemate on Capitol Hill, whilst NQ underperforms in what seems to be an unwind of the recent tech rally. Note: some have attributed the upside in Europe to a piece via the FT noting that ECB members are likely to cut their inflation projections at next week’s meeting amid the recent EUR strength. However, it is worth keeping in mind that price action does not correlate with the timing of the piece, with futures stable until the European cash open, almost three hours after markets picked up on the FT report. Nonetheless, the region experiences a sea of green with some underperformance seen in UK’s FTSE (+0.6) – weighed on by some large-cap miners as metals succumb to the Dollar. Sectors also reside in positive territory across the board with no clear risk bias to be extracted. Basic resources are the laggards whilst Travel & Leisure top the charts, possibly underpinned by vaccine hopes after NIH’s Fauci said there could be a vaccine ready by November or December. The IT sector meanwhile failed to garner much traction from reports that China is said to be mulling broader chip-sector support to battle US President Trump. In terms of individual movers, Sanofi (+0.7%) and GSK (+0.5%) have not deviated much since the cash open despite initiating its Phase 1/2 trial for its protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with pre-clinical studies showing promising safety and immunogenicity. Iliad (-3.1%) shares have tumbled after reporting a mixed bag of earnings. Finally, Siemens Healthineers (-3.6%) stand as one of the laggards after the group commenced a cash capital increase.

Top European News

  • Europe’s Rebound Lost Momentum With Italy, Spain Shrinking Again
  • Merkel Bloc Backs Plan for Extra Deficit Spending Next Year
  • Merkel Faces Pressure to Drop Russian Pipeline to Punish Putin
  • BOE Talks Up Prospect of Easing as U.K. Faces Triple Threat

In FX, the great Greenback revival seems to have stalled around 93.000 in DXY terms, albeit with the Euro rebounding on the back of a German boost to the pan Eurozone services and composite PMIs after disappointing prints from the periphery and France. Indeed, the Dollar may yet regain the initiative and upward momentum if the services ISM emulates the feats of Tuesday’s manufacturing survey and/or initial claims return to a declining trend. For now, the index is maintaining an underlying bid within a 93.074-92.688 band and taking cues from major counterparts in the main, while US Treasury yields and the curve continue to tick higher and steepen against the backdrop of positive risk sentiment in global stocks vs softer crude and commodity prices.

  • GBP - Sterling has slipped towards the bottom of the G10 ranks, with Cable struggling to keep sight of 1.3300 and Eur/Gbp eyeing 0.8900 after downward revisions to UK services and composite PMIs, but also amidst some re-pricing for zero or negative rates along the Short Sterling strip. However, BoE Governor Bailey may reiterate that NIRP is unlikely to happen anytime soon and MPC member Saunders rounds off this week’s heavy speaker’s schedule tomorrow.
  • AUD/NZD/CAD - Also weaker vs their US rival as the Aussie teeters just above 0.7300 in wake of weak trade data hot on the heels of the record Q2 GDP contraction, the Kiwi pivots 0.6750 and Loonie meanders between 1.3100-1.3040 parameters awaiting Canadian trade and Friday’s labour report.
  • EUR/CHF/JPY - As noted above, the Euro has gleaned some traction from upgrades to final German PMIs that more than offset misses elsewhere, with Eur/Usd back over 1.1800 and within striking distance of the 21 DMA (1.1835), while the Franc has pared declines from circa 0.9142 even though Swiss CPI came in slightly softer than expected and will likely harden the resolve of the SNB to keep rates negative and actively intervening. Similarly, the Yen is trying to contain losses below 106.00 despite more dovish BoJ commentary overnight and Japanese services and composite PMIs staying sub-50.
  • SCANDI/EM - The aforementioned downturn in oil has pushed the Norwegian Crown back under 10.5000 against the Euro and the Yuan is finally succumbing to the Buck’s persistent efforts to recover, but the Lira is underperforming again and sliding to new all time lows following weaker than forecast Turkish inflation and more intense investor anxiety about the nation’s increasingly strained international relations.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures continue to drift lower in early European hours, partly weighed on by the firmer USD, although participants must keep an eye on the supply side of the equation as Gulf of Mexico production comes back online (BSEE estimate 19.9% production shuttered in vs. Prev. 28.4%), whilst comments from Russian Energy Minister Novak yesterday, regarding oil demand at ~90% of pre-pandemic levels and calling on OPEC to take this into account, hinted at a potential proposal of early tapering of the OPEC+ output curbs. Meanwhile, the demand side of the equations continues to eye COVID-19 developments, with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control suggesting COVID-19 infections in Europe are "almost back" to March levels. Of course, airline fuel demand will be in focus on this front given the implementation of quarantine rules in the continent, whilst lockdowns are likely to be targeted to specific regions of cluster outbreaks. WTI Oct just below USD 41/bbl (vs. high 41.79/bbl) and Brent Nov under USD 44/bbl (vs. high 44.65/bbl), with the latter approaching USD 43.50/bbl to the downside. Elsewhere, precious metals remain subdued as a function of the Dollar – spot gold found overnight resistance at 1950/oz before trundling lower to ~1925/oz. Spot silver saw losses accelerate after a downwards breach of 27/oz, albeit the metal has since reclaimed the level. In terms of base metals, copper prices eased as disruptions ease in Chile, alongside an overall downbeat performance in China.

US Event Calendar:

  • 7:30am: Challenger Job Cuts 115.762K, vs 262.649K last
  • 8:30am: Nonfarm Productivity, est. 7.5%, prior 7.3%; Unit Labor Costs, est. 12.0%, prior 12.2%
  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 950,000, prior 1.01m; Continuing Claims, est. 14m, prior 14.5m
  • 8:30am: Trade Balance, est. $58.0b deficit, prior $50.7b deficit
  • 9:45am: Markit US Services PMI, est. 54.7, prior 54.8; Markit US Composite PMI, prior 54.7
  • 10am: ISM Services Index, est. 57, prior 58.1

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

On the subject of vaccines there are a few questions on this in our monthly survey. We’ve been very happy with the number of responses (very many thanks) so far and as a result we are going to close it a day early this lunchtime. So last few hours to fill it in. Link is here. Results hopefully tomorrow once we count all the ballots up!!

It’s a landmark day at home as my daughter Maisie migrates from nursery to school today and the twin boys start their first day at nursery at the same school. So cue lots of tears from everyone apart from me. Although I was a little upset to find that nursery didn’t have a boarding option. We plan to take a group photo in uniform at our front door this morning. I suspect there is no chance of them 1) all looking at the camera, 2) all smiling and 3) not fighting. However we may as well make the photos as authentic as possible. The twins do absolutely everything together (including wild fighting) but they are being separated into two classes today so goodness knows how that will turn out. Not our problem. We’ll just leave them at the gates and run.

Even if today is the first day of school for many, global equity markets have been at the top of the class this month already. US equities again hit fresh highs, with the S&P 500 jumping +1.54% as the index remains on track to close higher for the 9th week out of the last 10. It was the largest one day gain for the index since July 6th. The Dow Jones (+1.59%) hit a post-pandemic high as well, though unusually tech stocks lagged behind as the NASDAQ ‘only’ rose +0.98%. 22 of 24 S&P industries were higher with Autos and Utilities up over +3%, while Tech Hardware fell back -1.37% as Apple (-2.07%) retreated after rallying over +7% following its stock split back on Monday.

In Europe the moves were even stronger, with the STOXX 600 up +1.66%, though banks struggled (-0.65%) as bond yields took a sharp turn lower. The DAX (+2.07%) was another to reach a post-pandemic high, though it fell just -0.04% shy of being in positive territory on a YTD basis. Staying with Europe, a reminder that on Tuesday, 8 September at 2pm BST/3pm CET/9am ET, DB’s Mark Wall will be hosting a conversation with Peter Praet, Former Executive Board Member and Chief Economist of the ECB (2011-2019) on ECB policy through the pandemic and beyond. To register for the event, please click here.

Back now to those moves in fixed income yesterday. Yields on 10yr bunds (-5.3bps), OATs (-6.1bps) and BTPs (-6.3bps) fell throughout the session. Even in the US, where Treasury yields had climbed at the start of the day, they finished -1.6bps lower at 0.653%. Elsewhere, it was a pretty mixed performance for other safe havens, with the dollar index (+0.38%) strengthening for a second day running, whilst gold (-1.38%) and silver (-2.36%) saw noticeable falls. The stronger dollar weighed on oil as well, as WTI (-2.92%) and Brent (-2.52%) fell. The other factor pushing crude lower was news of OPEC+ beginning to taper cuts.

Overnight in Asia markets are mostly higher with the Nikkei (+1.31%) and Kospi (+1.41%) both posting strong advances while the Asx is up a more modest +0.77%. The Hang Seng -0.31% and Shanghai Comp -0.06% are down though. In FX, most G-10 and emerging market currencies are trading weak against the US dollar this morning with the euro down -0.35% to 1.1814. Futures on the S&P 500 are -0.08% this morning while yields on 10y USTs are back up +1.2bps.

Looking forward, attention today will turn to the release of the services and composite PMIs from around the world. Overnight we’ve already had the numbers in from Japan/China/Australia, which showed China’s Caixin services PMI stabilising at 54.0 (vs. 54.1 last month and 53.9 expected) while the composite reading moved up to 55.1 (vs. 54.5 last month). Japan’s final services PMI printed in line with the flash at 45.0 while the composite stood at 45.2 (vs. 44.9 in flash). Lastly Australia’s services reading was confirmed at 49.0 (vs. 48.1 in flash). So certainly no nasty data surprises in Asia as we head into European PMIs.

In other overnight news, the US State Department said in a statement that Chinese diplomats in the US will now face new limits on travel and meetings in the US. Under the new rules, senior Chinese diplomats must get approval to visit university campuses or meet with local officials and any Chinese-hosted cultural events outside of consular posts will need approval if the audience is larger than 50 people. The statement also added that the State Department will require that Chinese diplomatic social media accounts are identified as government-controlled. The moves are aimed at matching Communist Party restrictions on American diplomats and impose costs for what it calls unfair treatment.

On the coronavirus, Dr Fauci warned yesterday that the Labor Day holiday coming up could lead to a rise in cases as other summer holidays have in the US. Cases are currently rising at a rate of 290,000 per week in the US, the lowest since just before the July 4th holiday weekend in the states. While new cases are declining in the summer hot spots like Texas, Florida, and Arizona the concern has shifted to states that were less affected in both the first (Northeast) and second waves such as Iowa and the Dakotas, which have seen sharp rises over the past 2 weeks. Back to the topic of vaccines, the CDC in the US told health officials in all 50 states that they should be ready to distribute a vaccine by November 1 to at-risk individuals including healthcare workers and the elderly. As outlined in the vaccine piece linked above, the timeline puts a potential rollout right before the US election and already over 75% of Americans believe the approval process is driven by politics (according to a Stat/Harris poll). This could hamper the initial uptake and politicise it as discussed in our piece.

In the UK, the government had to step back from easing restrictions in some areas of northwest England after pushback from local leaders. On the continent, France reported over 7000 cases in the last day and along with Spain are now seeing more confirmed cases on a weekly basis than they did during their original outbreaks. Hospitalisations continue to lag as countries continue to cite younger populations as being infected in larger quantities. There is also a matter of greater testing, but the increasing numbers before the weather gets cold will mean the probability of some form of restrictions returning in the next few months is high. The question for governments remain how to balance restrictions with the economic impacts.

Ahead of tomorrow’s US jobs report, the ADP’s private payrolls report showed that firms added +428k jobs, which was beneath the +1m reading expected. However as our US economists wrote last week, given their miss last month, this release may be discounted somewhat. As a reminder, their forecast is still for a +1.2m increase in nonfarm payrolls tomorrow. In terms of other data out yesterday, US factory orders in July were up +6.4% (vs. +6.1% expected), though German retail sales in July unexpected fell by -0.9% (vs. +0.5% expected).

Overnight, Fed’s Daly became the latest official to speak on the need for fiscal stimulus in the US. She said “at this point more fiscal would be appropriate” and added if support isn't restored to its previous levels, it could be a "headwind" to growth with a "disproportionate" effect on those who are struggling the most. She also said, “I think there’s more to do in that Main Street lending program, and we’re actively trying to do it”. On the other hand, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised concerns over whether the Congress can get a deal at all after lawmakers return to Capitol post a month long recess. He said, “I don’t know if there will be another package in the next few weeks or not,” while adding that talks between top administration officials and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi haven’t been fruitful, and that any embrace of bipartisanship in the Capitol has “descended” as the elections near.

Here in the UK we actually had a number of headlines yesterday, including an array of Bank of England speakers. On the possibility of further stimulus, Deputy Governor Ramsden said that the BoE had “headroom to do materially more QE if we need to add to it”, though Governor Bailey also said that the BoE’s “best guess” was that inflation probably wouldn’t go negative, since the pass-through of the VAT cut was less than anticipated. Meanwhile on the UK-EU trade negotiations, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier gave a speech yesterday in which he criticised the UK’s stance on multiple points. He said that “the UK has refused to engage on credible guarantees for open and fair competition”, that they have “not shown any willingness to seek compromises on fisheries”, and that “the UK has been extremely reluctant to include any meaningful horizontal dispute settlement mechanisms in our future agreement”. We’ll likely get some more headlines on this front next week when the next negotiating round takes place in London.

To the day ahead now, and the aforementioned services and composite PMIs from around the world are likely to be the main data highlight, along with the ISM services index from the US. Otherwise, there’s Euro Area retail sales for July, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims and the July trade balance from the US. Central bank speakers today include BoE Governor Bailey as well as Deputy Governor Ramsden, along with the ECB’s Schnabel and the Fed’s Evans.

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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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