The daily business briefing: September 9, 2020

AstraZeneca pauses coronavirus vaccine trial, Tesla shares see their biggest one-day drop ever, and more

1. AstraZeneca pauses COVID-19 vaccine trial after volunteer falls ill

AstraZeneca announced Tuesday that it suspended a late-stage trial of its potential coronavirus vaccine to review safety data after a participant in the United Kingdom experienced a suspected serious adverse reaction. The patient is expected to recover. A company spokesperson said the temporary halt was "a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials." The pharmaceutical company said in a statement that during large trials, "illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully" while trying to "minimize any potential impact on the trial timelines." AstraZeneca is testing the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, in the U.K., the United States, Brazil, and South Africa. It is considered a leading vaccine candidate, and is one of three now in Phase 3 trials in the U.S.

STAT News The Associated Press

2. Tesla's stock sees biggest one-day drop ever

Tesla shares plunged by 21 percent on Tuesday in the biggest one-day loss ever for the stock. The stock recovered some of the losses overnight, rising by 6 percent. Tesla shares soared recently ahead of the electric-car company's recent 5-to-1 share split, with its market value surpassing that of some leading rival automakers, including Toyota and Volkswagen. But Tesla shares reversed course after the committee that adds companies to the S&P 500 index passed over Tesla on Friday, picking up e-commerce site Etsy and automatic test equipment maker Teradyne instead. Many investors expected Tesla to make the cut this quarter after reporting its fourth straight profitable quarter in July. The stock dropped by 7 percent in after-hours trading on Friday after the news broke, and U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

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3. Pharmaceutical CEOs make joint vaccine safety pledge

The CEOs of nine drug companies working on COVID-19 vaccine candidates on Tuesday released a joint pledge vowing that they would not submit the drugs for approval without "demonstrating safety and efficacy through a Phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities such as FDA." The companies, which included Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Novavax, said they were trying to "ensure public confidence" in the process. The chief executives also promised to "always make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals our top priority." The unusually explicit pledge came in response to concerns that the rush to produce a vaccine to fight the pandemic would lead some companies to cut corners in the approval process. The concerns mounted as the Trump administration said a potential candidate could be ready just before the presidential election.

The Washington Post

4. U.S. stocks poised to rebound after Tuesday's losses

U.S. stock futures gained early Wednesday, bouncing back after Tuesday's losses as investors bought technology shares hit hard in the last three trading sessions. Futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose by 1.9 percent after plummeting by more than 10 percent from a record high over the last three days. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5 percent, while those of the S&P 500 were up by 0.8 percent several hours before the opening bell. Apple, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook lost a total of $1 trillion in market value over the last three days, and all of them were up in Wednesday pre-market trading. Tesla was up 6 percent in pre-market trading, after falling a record 21 percent on Tuesday.


5. Biden to detail 'offshoring tax penalty' to bring back jobs

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday is visiting the battleground state of Michigan, where he is expected to unveil a proposal to tax companies that move U.S. jobs overseas. Biden has already proposed hiking the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, and his planned "offshoring tax penalty" would impose a 30.8 percent tax on profits from products made overseas for sale in the United States, Reuters reported, citing a Biden adviser. Biden also will propose a 10 percent tax credit for companies that reopen facilities they have closed or are preparing to close, hoping to encourage U.S. manufacturers to bring back offshored jobs. The measures would require congressional approval.


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