The daily business briefing: April 17, 2023
Merck reaches a deal to buy Prometheus Biosciences for $10.8 billion, G-7 ministers agree to speed up the shift to clean energy, and more
Merck buying Prometheus Biosciences for $10.8 billion
Merck & Co. said Sunday it had reached a deal to buy Prometheus Biosciences for about $10.8 billion. The acquisition will give the giant drug maker a promising experimental treatment, PRA023, that is being developed to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, two inflammatory bowel diseases. "This is allowing us to move into immunology in a strong way and will allow us sustainable growth, we think, well into the 2030s given the long patent life," Merck CEO Robert Davis told Reuters. Merck is paying $200 per share for the California-based biotechnology company, which amounts to a 75.4 percent premium over the stock's latest closing price.
G-7 ministers agree to accelerate transition to clean energy
Representatives from the Group of Seven advanced economies agreed Sunday to speed up the transition to clean energy sources as they started a meeting in Japan. The G-7, which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada, and the European Union issued a 36-page communique committing to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, but they stopped short of phasing out coal by 2030. They said that while they were leaving the door open to continued use of fossil fuels, they called for avoiding "unabated" fossil fuel use, meaning power plants continuing to use fossil fuels will have to at least try to capture their emissions so they wouldn't be pumped into the environment.
EU warns Poland, Hungary over Ukraine grain import ban
The European Union on Sunday warned Poland and Hungary that it was "not acceptable" for the trade bloc's member states to take "unilateral actions" on trade after the two countries banned imports of grain and other foods from Ukraine. Russia blocked some Black Sea ports after it invaded Ukraine last year, flooding Central European countries with Ukrainian grain that couldn't be shipped elsewhere. Ukrainian grain is cheaper, so the imports hurt prices and sales of locally grown crops, angering people in rural areas and creating a political problem for Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice party in an election year.
Stock futures steady ahead of more earnings
U.S. stock futures were little changed early Monday ahead of a flurry of quarterly earnings reports. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up by less than 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down by less than 0.1 percent. Charles Schwab is reporting earnings later in the day. Its shares have fallen 39 percent this year, as the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank stoked investor concerns about the finances of many financial institutions. Bank of America and Morgan Stanley report earnings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Big banks Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and JPMorgan got earnings season off to a strong start Friday by reporting better-than-expected earnings.
'Super Mario Bros. Movie' dominates box office for 2nd weekend
The Super Mario Bros. Movie dominated the domestic box office again with $87 million in ticket sales in its second weekend. The haul was down just 41 percent from its opening weekend, giving the movie the best second weekend ever for an animated film, and lifting its total to $347.8 million in North America and $678 million worldwide. Universal's horror-comedy Renfield, starring Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula, made a disappointing $7.7 million to come in fourth place, behind Sony's R-rated demonic thriller The Pope's Exorcist at $9.1 million and Lionsgate's John Wick: Chapter 4.