January 2021

EU pledges vaccine controls will not hit UK supplies

Ursula von der Leyen has promised Boris Johnson that future EU controls on vaccines will not disrupt contracted supplies of the Belgian-made BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to Britain.

The European Commission president made the commitment to the prime minister in a tense Friday night call, which followed the Commission’s controversial plan — hastily abandoned — to impose emergency border controls on vaccines entering Northern Ireland from the EU.

Ms von der Leyen tweeted that the talks with Mr Johnson had been “constructive”, adding: “We agreed on the principle that there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities.”

Mr Johnson’s allies confirmed that this included the 40m doses that Pfizer is contracted to supply Britain from a plant in Belgium. The Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dropping of the implied threat to Pfizer exports and the abandonment of the proposal to include Northern Ireland in new export controls has calmed tension between London and Brussels.

Mr Johnson has tried this week to avoid stoking tension and inflaming a vaccine war which he believes would harm both sides and hinder the global fight against Covid-19.

“The call was

Point72 founder Steve Cohen leaves Twitter after family receives threats

Steven A. Cohen

Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Steve Cohen, the founder of hedge fund Point72 and owner of the New York Mets, has deactivated his Twitter account after his family received threats this week amid the GameStop trading frenzy.

“I’ve really enjoyed the back and forth with Mets fans on Twitter which was unfortunately overtaken this week by misinformation unrelated to the Mets that led to our family getting personal threats,” Cohen said in a statement on Saturday.

“So I’m going to take a break for now. We have other ways to listen to your suggestions and remain committed to doing that,” he said.

Cohen’s hedge fund, which manages nearly $19 billion in assets, lost nearly 15{6b17707e448e34f54d6d1a9e433426abf2addbba8938cba1c35a09fc0ada7803} this year after small investors caused shares of videogame retailer GameStop to surge, a source familiar with the matter told The New York Times.

The losses at Point72 are mainly due to the company’s investment in hedge fund Melvin Capital, which bet against GameStop and had to receive nearly $3 billion in emergency cash from two outside investors, one of which was Point72.

Cohen, who purchased the Mets for about $2.5 billion in November, faced questions on Twitter about how

Moderna cuts deliveries to Italy and France in new blow to EU vaccination plans

Vaccine manufacturer Moderna has told Italy and France it will deliver fewer doses than expected in February, in another blow to struggling coronavirus vaccination plans in the EU.

Domenico Arcuri, the Italian special commissioner in charge of Italy’s
pandemic response, said Moderna had told Rome that delivery volumes would be 20 per cent less than planned from early February.

France’s ministry of health said it was now expecting 25 per cent fewer doses from the US biotech than had originally been scheduled next month.

Moderna said it had provided “short-term revised delivery guidance” outside of the US because of a ramp-up at its manufacturing plant for the drug substance in Switzerland. “Moderna remains focused on operating at the highest level of quality to ensure the safety of the vaccine,” it said.

The cuts are the latest disruptions to vaccine supplies that have left the EU’s vaccination strategy in disarray. AstraZeneca warned EU officials last week that it could supply less than half of the vaccines the bloc had ordered for the first three months of the year, provoking a bitter clash over contractual terms.

Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, last week accused AstraZeneca of “a serious contractual

American Airlines plans another $1 billion stock sale after big rally

American Airlines flight 718, the first U.S. Boeing 737 MAX commercial flight since regulators lifted a 20-month grounding in November, takes off from Miami, Florida, December 29, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

American Airlines authorized the sale of another $1 billion in stock, the carrier said in a filing Friday, an effort to shore up cash as Covid-19 continues to depress travel demand.

American authorized a $1 billion stock sale in October and sold $882.4 million at $12.87 a share. Under the new agreement, it would sell up to $1.12 billion.

American’s decision comes on the heels of a sharp rally in its stock price earlier this week after it was mentioned in the popular WallStreetBets Reddit forum. The airline declined to comment on whether the stock move factored into its decision.

American’s shares were down almost 7{6b17707e448e34f54d6d1a9e433426abf2addbba8938cba1c35a09fc0ada7803} in afternoon trading on Friday. Other airline stocks were also sharply lower. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier and Southwest Airlines each reported record 2020 losses on Thursday.

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Markets latest: Backlash against Robinhood grows after app limits trades in hot stocks

Neil Hume and Henry Sanderson

Shares in silver miners and exchange-traded funds backed by the precious metal ripped higher on Thursday as the Reddit army of day traders turned their attention to producers of the volatile precious metal.

Fresnillo, the Mexico-focused miner that was hammered a day earlier following a disappointing trading update, rallied as much as 10 per cent to secure the top spot in the FTSE 100 performance chart.

Meanwhile, shares in Hochschild Mining, which has operations in Peru and Argentina, climbed 7 per cent to become the biggest riser in the FTSE 250 index. Those in Canada-based First Majestic Silver, which operates in Mexico, rose by 29 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange.

The price rise was not limited to miners. Shares in the world’s largest silver-backed ETF, the iShares Silver Trust, rose by 6 per cent after a user in Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum urged people to buy shares and call options.

The user u/TheHappyHawaiian said buying shares in the ETF would “force physical delivery of silver” into its vaults, thereby causing a “short squeeze” on the market. That pushed up the silver price. That would present problems for traders who were short silver on

‘I’m not damning them’ but it will ‘end in tears’

Leon Cooperman told CNBC on Thursday he believes the Reddit-fueled trading frenzy involving GameStop shares will end poorly. However, the billionaire investor said he wasn’t faulting the people who kicked off the epic short squeeze, which sent the stock to dizzying heights in recent days.

“I’m not damning them. I’m just saying from my experience, this will end in tears,” Cooperman said on “Fast Money: Halftime Report,” as shares of the beleaguered video game retailer tumbled about 25{6b17707e448e34f54d6d1a9e433426abf2addbba8938cba1c35a09fc0ada7803}. Earlier in the session, GameStop’s stock touched an all-time high of $483 but came under pressure as numerous retail brokerages placed limits on trades.

Cooperman said he has no position in GameStop. However, on a quick glance at the financials, he said the company’s declining sales do not support such lofty levels in the current stock price or anything even close.

“GameStop is not worth $500, not worth $400, not worth $300, not worth $200, not even worth $100, not even worth $50,” said Cooperman, chairman of the Omega Family Office. He added that “investors” don’t own GameStop — only “speculators” do.

Cooperman said he believes the current moment in the stock market — including the online hype pumping up heavily