Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 27, 2021

Biden says U.S. will buy another 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses, GameStop shares skyrocket, and more

1

Biden administration orders another 200 million vaccine doses

The Biden administration has ordered another 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna, President Biden said Tuesday. Adding the new purchase to the 400 million doses already ordered, the U.S. should have enough vaccine to inoculate every American who wants a vaccine by the end of summer. "It will be enough to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans to beat the pandemic," Biden said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 23.5 million doses had been administered in the U.S. as of Tuesday, with more than 3.4 million people fully vaccinated. Vaccine doses shipped to states are due to increase by 20 percent to 10 million per week, a Biden administration official said. Johnson & Johnson plans to release data on its single-dose vaccine, which soon could add to the supply.

2

GameStop shares skyrocket with boost from Reddit message board

GameStop shares rocketed up by 92.7 percent on Tuesday due to a battle between short sellers and traders on a "wallstreetbets" Reddit message board who have been pushing for purchasing the stock. Tuesday's close put the video-game store chain's market value at more than $10 billion for the first time in its history. The stock got a boost from a tweet by Social Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya saying he had bought GameStop call options in a bet the shares would rise. GameStop shares surged by another 60 percent in pre-market trading on Wednesday after Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday tweeted "Gamestonk," a reference to GameStop shares. Earlier in the day, Etsy shares briefly jumped by 8 percent after Musk tweeted about a hand-knitted wool hat he bought for his dog on the craft site.

3

Biden tells DOJ to stop using private prisons

President Biden on Tuesday told the Justice Department to stop using private prisons, as part of his administration's effort to create a more just and equitable society. Biden also directed his administration to identify and fix any racial bias in housing programs. "We need to make equity and justice part of what we do every day," Biden said, "today, tomorrow, and every day." Biden's remarks came as he signed four new executive orders that continued a wave of actions intended to address racial inequalities. Susan Rice, head of Biden's Domestic Policy Council, said the administration also would address inequities through its economic agenda, citing estimates that racial discrimination has cost the economy $16 trillion in the last two decades. "The evidence is clear," she said. "Investing in equity is good for economic growth."

4

Eli Lilly says trial showed its COVID-19 drug reduced hospitalizations

Eli Lilly announced Tuesday that its coronavirus drug bamlanivimab reduced hospitalizations for infected, high-risk patients by 70 percent in a large, late-stage trial. The drug was approved for emergency use last year by the Food and Drug Administration. It has been given to 125,000 high risk patients across the United States, including former President Donald Trump, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Trump's personal attorney. Eli Lilly said that 10 percent of the COVID-19 patients given a placebo in its trial wound up being hospitalized, compared to just 2 percent of those given bamlanivimab combined with another monoclonal antibody, etesevimab. None of the patients given the cocktail died, but eight given the placebo did. Patients given bamlanivimab alone also did well.

5

Stock futures mixed after Microsoft earnings lift tech

U.S. stock index futures were mixed early Wednesday as investors digested Microsoft's strong earnings report and waited for earnings results for more tech giants. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was up by 0.2 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. Microsoft shares jumped by 4.6 percent in after-hours trading following the software giant's earnings report. Microsoft said its quarterly revenue increased by 17 percent over the same period last year, thanks partly to gains in cloud computing and Xbox video game content and services. Apple, Facebook, and Tesla report earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday.

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