Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow set to rocket higher on Covid vaccine trial data showing 90% efficacy


Dow futures pointed to about a 6% rally at Monday's open after Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) said that data from their Covid-19 vaccine trial showed 90% efficacy. The broad surge in stocks included up to 25% gains in airline and cruise stocks on the thought that eventual widespread vaccine distribution would allow people to safety travel again. Tech stocks, which have been beneficiaries of the stay-at-home economy caused by the pandemic, were under pressure but Nasdaq futures were higher. (CNBC)

* ‘Suddenly we have hope’: Cramer says the big stock pop justifiable (CNBC)
* Zoom and other ‘stay-at-home’ stocks are getting crushed on the positive vaccine data (CNBC)

President Donald Trump tweeted about the "GREAT NEWS!" about the vaccine and the stock market surge. President-elect Joe Biden also called the Pfizer vaccine data "great news" but said, it "does not change this urgent reality. Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year." Any vaccine will still need regulatory approval and widespread distribution won't happen right away. (CNBC)

Before the vaccine news, U.S. stock futures had already been sharply higher, fueled by Biden's Saturday night victory speech, in which he spoke of unity. Trump has refused to concede, saying over the weekend that the election is "far from over." Strong stock gains heading into the new week added to Wall Street's post-election rally. While the Dow dipped on Friday, the 30-stock average surged nearly 7% last week. (CNBC)

McDonald's (MCD) shares gained 4% in the premarket after the fast food giant reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $2.22 per share, beating estimates. Revenue was slightly above Wall Street forecasts. Comparable store sales were down 2.2% globally, but increased by 4.6% in the U.S., as sales in those stores benefitted from stronger average check growth. (CNBC)

* McDonald’s looks to chicken, loyalty program and celebrities to drive mid-single digit sales growth in 2021 and 2022 (CNBC)

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.a) reported a third-quarter drop in operating profit compared with a year earlier, as the insurance underwriting operation lost money. However, Warren Buffett's Berkshire posted an overall profit thanks to the rising value of its equity investments. The conglomerate bought back $9 billion of its own stock. Shares of Berkshire rose more than 4% in the premarket. (CNBC)


Pfizer and BioNTech saw their shares up sharply after announcing Monday that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection. The final vaccine efficacy percentage may vary, however, as safety and additional data continue to be collected. (CNBC)

* Pfizer CEO calls Covid vaccine a ‘great day for humanity’ and a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ (CNBC)
* Pfizer CEO says he would take coronavirus vaccine first to ease public concern (CNBC)

Biden earlier Monday announced the members of his coronavirus task force, a group charged by the president-elect with crafting a plan to curb the spread of Covid-19 as new daily cases reached record-high levels. The advisory board — co-chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Yale's Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. The task force includes Dr. Rick Bright, the vaccine expert and whistleblower who resigned from the Trump administration last month. (CNBC)

As of Saturday, the U.S. reported four straight days of record new daily cases. Saturday saw more than 128,400 U.S. infections. Nineteen states reported a record-high number of people hospitalized with Covid-19, based on a seven-day average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project. Total U.S. Covid-19 cases approached 10 million on Monday after worldwide cumulative infections topped 50 million. (CNBC)

Biden on Saturday night called on Americans to come together and heal, in his first speech since winning the presidency. "This is the time to heal in America," he said in an address from Wilmington, Delaware. Biden reiterated that he'll be president for everyone. Trump supporters "are not our enemies," he said. They're Americans." (CNBC)

While major news organizations called the presidential race for Biden, the balance of power in the Senate might not be decided until the new year. It appears that Republicans will keep their majority. However, four races on Monday remained too close to call, including two in Georgia heading for run-off elections in January. NBC News has the Senate count deadlocked at 48 Republicans and 48 Democrats. On the House side, Democrats will keep their majority but it won't be big, according to NBC News.


Cannabis producer Canopy Growth (WEED) reported a smaller-than-expected loss, as well as greater-than-expected revenue for its latest quarter, benefitting from cost cuts as well as a greater number of people using its products amid the pandemic.

Party City (PRTY) reported an adjusted profit of 10 cents per share, compared to forecasts of a 32 cents per share loss. Revenue was also above forecasts, with Party City seeing better-than-expected results for October and for Halloween in particular. Party City also gave a better than expected current quarter outlook.

Volkswagen's truck unit Traton finalized its deal to buy the remainder of truck maker Navistar (NAV) that it did not already own for $3.7 billion. Traton already had a 16.7% stake in Navistar and agreed in mid-October to raise a prior bid.

Activist investor Elliott Management has taken a stake in software management company F5 Networks (FFIV), according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. The size of the stake could not be determined.

Apple (AAPL) and Sony (SNE) have both held talks about buying podcast producer Wondery, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wondery is said to be seeking $300 million to $400 million in a possible sale.

ViiV Healthcare, which is majority owned by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said an injectable experimental treatment to prevent HIV infection in women is 89% more effective than daily pills.