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Week Ahead – US and eurozone inflation, Fed speak, Bank of Japan minutes

US It will be a busy week filled with a wide range of economic releases, with the focus falling on the consumer and the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge. …

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It will be a busy week filled with a wide range of economic releases, with the focus falling on the consumer and the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge.  August personal income is expected to rise given the strong labor market while spending cooled given the end of summer vacations.  The bond market will pay extremely close attention to the next round of inflation readings.  Headline PCE will likely heat up given the surge in energy prices, while the core reading should maintain the 0.2% monthly pace. 

Wall Street will also pay close attention to the UAW strike and if government shutdown odds grow.  It will also be a busy week filled with central bank speak.  On Monday, the Fed’s Kashkari speaks at Wharton School. Tuesday contains Bowman’s welcoming remarks at a FedCommunities event on rental housing affordability. Thursday contains four events, with Chair Powell hosting a town hall with educators and speeches from Goolsbee, Cook, and Barkin. Williams speaks on monetary policy on Friday. 

Eurozone

The ECB signaled after its September meeting that its tightening cycle was likely at an end, barring any nasty surprises on the data front. Next week could be the first test of that, with flash HICP inflation data due on Friday. Substantial progress has already been made and much more is expected over the remainder of the year, while a cooling economy and threat of recession is clearly making policymakers nervous. 

As always, a number of individual countries will release their inflation numbers in the days leading up to the eurozone release so we could have a pretty good idea of what we’re in for by the time the Friday release happens. That aside, there are some surveys released over the course of the week among other tier two and three data. Central bank speak will also be monitored, most notably President Christine Lagarde’s comments as she makes an appearance on the same day as the inflation report is released.

UK 

The Bank of England surprised markets this past week in choosing to hold the Bank Rate at 5.25, with those backing it taking the vote by the finest of margins 5-4. That doesn’t necessarily mark the end of the tightening cycle but if the data improves as the MPC expect, it may well be. Any negative data surprises between now and the early November meeting though may tip the balance the other way. There’s going to be even more pressure on the data now, not that there’s really anything of note next week. The final GDP reading for the second quarter is the only one that stands out in any way.

Russia

There’s a selection of data due next week although I’m not sure any will hold much sway when it comes to upcoming monetary policy announcements unless they’re particularly shocking. Industrial output, retail sales, GDP, unemployment, and real wages are among the releases. Russia’s issues with inflation and the currency are much bigger than all of these, although it will be interesting to see how the economy is holding up amid these additional pressures. 

South Africa

The SARB held rates steady at its September meeting, as expected, with headline and core inflation sitting comfortably within its 3-6% target. The central bank continued to warn about risks to the inflation outlook and hasn’t declared the end of the tightening cycle just yet. PPI figures next week may be of interest. 

Turkey

The Turkish central bank raised interest rates by 5% on Thursday, taking the Key Rate to 30% amid a plunging lira and soaring inflation. The move didn’t help lift the currency which still sits near record lows. Next week doesn’t have much to offer beyond a few tier-three data releases.

Switzerland

The SNB opted against raising interest rates in September as their new forecasts showed inflation below 2% over the forecast horizon, meaning no more tightening is necessary. The decision obviously came with warnings that hikes could be considered in the future if the data warrants it, as the SNB attempted to put itself into hawkish hold territory, which markets didn’t buy. The SNB is done with rate hikes and the focus now will shift to when the first cut will come. Next week has a few things of note, with the KOF indicator and investor sentiment surveys, and the SNB quarterly bulletin being released.

China

The only data to watch will be total industrial profits for August which are forecasted to contract at a slower pace of -10% y/y from -15.5% y/y in July.

India

Q2 current account and external debt data will be released on Friday. The current account deficit is expected to shrink marginally to $1 billion from $-1.3 billion recorded in Q1.

The Indian rupee has been resilient against the strength of the US dollar against other emerging currencies in the past three months. The USD/INR has been trading in a tight range of 175 pips and capped below its October 2022 high of 83.28.

Australia

Two key data releases to be aware of this week. Firstly, the monthly CPI for August will be out on Wednesday, and after a deceleration to 4.9% in the year to July, marking the lowest inflation rate since February 2022, a slight uptick to 5.2% is expected in August.

Secondly, preliminary retail sales for August on Thursday are expected to show a dip to 0.3% m/m from 0.5% in July.

New Zealand

Business confidence data for September is due on Thursday with an improvement to 5 from -3.7 in August expected. That would put an end to 26 consecutive months of negative readings.

Consumer confidence on Friday is expected to slow to 81.5 for September from 85 previously. 

Japan

Bank of Japan (BoJ) monetary policy meeting minutes will be out on Wednesday and market participants will scrutinize the BoJ official’s remarks or expressed views on the state of inflation in Japan as well as any debate on bringing forward the end of negative interest rate policy.

A busy Friday with a slew of data releases. The leading Tokyo core inflation reading (excluding fresh food) is expected to dip to 2.6% y/y from 2.8%. That would be the third straight month of deceleration in Tokyo’s core inflation. However, the core-core inflation rate (excluding fresh food and energy) is forecasted to remain the same at 2.6% y/y for September, a 31-year high.

Retail sales for August are expected to dip slightly to 6.6% y/y from 6.8% in July, Consumer confidence in September is expected to improve to 37 from 36.2 in August.

Singapore

Inflation data for August will be out on Monday and the core inflation rate is expected to decelerate further to 3.5% y/y from 3.8% in July. That would be the fourth consecutive month of slowdown. Meanwhile, the headline inflation rate is expected to be almost unchanged at 4% y/y in August versus 4.1% in July.

August’s industrial production figures will be released on Tuesday with another month of contraction expected at a higher magnitude of -3.1% y/y from -0.9% in July. That would mark eleven straight months of contraction suggesting a sticky weak external demand environment.


Economic Calendar

Saturday, Sept. 23

Economic Data/Events

78th session of the UN General Assembly (plenary) continues

German Chancellor Scholz attends SPD campaign events in Nuremberg and Hesse

Sunday, Sept. 24

Economic Data/Events

Austrian Chancellor Nehammer opens Salzburg Europe Summit

Monday, Sept. 25

Economic Data/Events

Germany IFO business climate

Singapore CPI

IAEA General Conference starts in Vienna

RBA Assistant Governor Jones speaks on financial technology and climate change

Fed’s Kashkari participates in Q&A at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

ECB’s Villeroy speaks on monetary policy and macroeconomics at the Paris conference

EU industry ministers meet in Brussels

German Chancellor Scholz and Economy Minister Habeck attend the national aerospace conference  

European Budget Commissioner Hahn and Austrian Finance Minister Brunner speak at the Salzburg Europe Summit

Tuesday, Sept. 26

Economic Data/Events

US new home sales, Conference Board consumer confidence

Mexico international reserves

Singapore industrial production

ECB’s Holzmann speaks at Bloomberg event in Vienna

ECB’s Lane speaks on monetary policy and macroeconomics at the Paris conference

Spanish Parliament begins debate on the new prime minister. Vote to occur on Sept. 27th

German Chancellor Scholz speaks at the annual meeting of the German Society for International Cooperation

German Economy Minister Habeck speaks at the BDI climate conference

Wednesday, Sept. 27

Economic Data/Events

US durable goods

China industrial profits

Mexico trade

Russia unemployment, industrial production

Thailand rate decision: Expected to raise rates 25bps to 2.50%

Bank of Japan issues minutes of July’s policy meeting

French government reveals 2024 budget

Foreign ministers of Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czechia, and Hungary hold a briefing in Vienna

Thursday, Sept. 28

Economic Data/Events

US initial jobless claims, GDP

Australia retail sales

Eurozone economic confidence, consumer confidence

Germany CPI

Mexico unemployment, rate decision

Spain CPI

Fed Chair Jerome Powell hosts town hall meeting 

Fed’s Barkin dinner speech on monetary policy outlook at Money Marketeers of NYU

Fed’s Goolsbee speaks at Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington

South African Reserve Bank issues quarterly bulletin

German Chancellor Scholz, Belgian Prime Minister De Croo, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink attend the Berlin Global Dialogue

Riksbank Deputy Governor Flodén speaks at Svenska Kreditföreningen’s autumn conference

IEA’s Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Summit in Paris

Austrian energy regulator’s gas chief Millgramm speaks at the Montel Energy Day conference

Friday, Sept. 29

Economic Data/Events

US consumer spending, wholesale inventories, University of Michigan consumer sentiment

China Caixin manufacturing PMI, Caixin services PMI

Czech Republic GDP

Eurozone CPI

France CPI

Germany unemployment

Hong Kong retail sales

Italy CPI

Japan unemployment, Tokyo CPI, industrial production, retail sales

Poland CPI

South Africa trade balance

Thailand trade

UK GDP

China’s ‘Golden Week’ holiday begins from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8

ECB President Lagarde speaks in Paris at an event on the energy transition

Fed’s Williams speaks at the Long Island Association

Helsinki Security Forum begins

Sovereign Rating Updates

Portugal (Fitch)

Turkey (S&P)

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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.

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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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