Morning Brief

What to watch today: Dow futures drop sharply as omicron fears resurface


U.S. stock futures declined sharply Tuesday as investors reassessed risks associated with the new Covid omicron variant. Wall Street saw a rebound Monday after Friday's plunge. Heading into the last day of November, the Dow was lower for the month, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were higher for the month. (CNBC)

* Oil slumps on jitters over vaccine efficacy in the face of omicron (Reuters)
* Treasury yields slump on renewed omicron Covid variant fears (CNBC)

Weighing stocks Tuesday, Moderna (MRNA) CEO Stephane Bancel stepped up comments he made Monday on CNBC's "Squawk Box," telling the Financial Times he expects a "material drop" in current vaccine effectiveness against omicron.

In addition, preliminary tests of current Covid antibody drug cocktails from Regeneron (REGN) and Eli Lilly (LLY) indicated less effectiveness against the new variant, according to The Wall Street Journal, a sign that an important class of therapies might need to be modified.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, according to prepared remarks, is set to tell a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday he believes the omicron variant and a recent uptick in coronavirus cases pose a threat to the U.S. economy and muddle an already-uncertain inflation outlook. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joins Powell today. They go before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. (CNBC)

* CNBC's Jim Cramer's investment playbook for the Covid omicron variant
* Ray Dalio says cash is not a safe place right now despite heightened market volatility (CNBC)


A panel of expert advisors to the FDA are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to recommend authorization of Merck's (MRK) antiviral Covid pill. The U.S. drugmaker reported Friday the medicine's efficacy in reducing hospitalizations and deaths dropped to 30%. It had reported about a 50% reduction a month ago. (Reuters)

President Joe Biden on Monday said he doesn't expect the U.S. to impose additional travel restrictions to stem the spread of omicron. The U.S. on Monday began to temporarily bar visitors from South Africa, where scientists first reported the strain, and from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The president also said he doesn't think lockdowns are necessary. (CNBC)

* Here’s what we know so far about the new omicron variant (CNBC)
* CDC steps up its Covid vaccine booster recommendation (CNBC)
* World waits as Covid vaccine makers prepare for new variant (CNBC)

The FTC is investigating whether supply chain disruptions are hurting consumers with higher prices. The agency has ordered Walmart, Amazon and other major food suppliers to give detailed information about the situation as part of the probe. (Reuters)

Altria (MO) and Philip Morris International (PM) are no longer able to sell or import Iqos tobacco devices in the U.S. after the Biden administration opted to take no action in an ongoing patent dispute. Rival R.J. Reynolds, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco (BTI), filed a claim with the U.S. International Trade Commission (CNBC)

Former President Donald Trump's lawyers will try to persuade a federal appeals court to stop Congress from receiving call logs, drafts of speeches and other documents related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol led by his supporters. (AP)

* Supreme Court asked to review overturned Bill Cosby sex crime conviction (CNBC)


Dollar Tree (DLTR) fell more than 2% in premarket trading after Goldman downgraded the stock to neutral from a buy. The firm said the stock is too expensive at current levels as Dollar Tree's comeback story is now priced in.

SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) pulled back about 3% premarket after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal-weight from overweight. Morgan Stanley said the stock appears to be fully valued after a recent hot streak.

Facebook-parent Meta Platforms (FB) were slightly lower in the premarket after a U.K. regulator told the company it must sell GIF-sharing platform Giphy. The Competition and Markets Authority said Meta's acquisition of Giphy would reduce competition between social media platforms.

Meat alternative producer Beyond Meat (BYND) and plant-based dairy company Oatly (OTLY) each retreated more than 1% in early morning trading after HSBC initiated coverage of the stocks at a "reduce" rating.

Twitter (TWTR) and Square (SQ) moved higher in the premarket the day after Jack Dorsey announced he's stepping down as CEO of Twitter. Dorsey was serving as chief executive at both the social media platform and digital payments company Square.