Stocks Rise as Vaccine Merger News Draw Focus
Stocks rose Monday as investors considered positive developments around a coronavirus vaccine candidate, and eyed a flurry of newly announced mergers and acquisitions among major companies. Tech shares mostly shook off last week’s jitters.
AstraZeneca (AZN) announced over the weekend that its late-stage Covid-19 vaccine trials with the University of Oxford had resumed, after safety concerns over a suspected adverse reaction from a participant had led the company to pause trials temporarily a week earlier. Shares rose about a 0.5% in early trading.
Elsewhere, Oracle (ORCL) shares rose after the company on Monday confirmed reports that it was included in a proposal for TikTok that the social media owner’s ByteDance submitted to the US Treasury Department over the weekend. This followed reports from multiple news outlets that the tech company landed a partnership with TikTok’s US business unit, edging out Microsoft (MSFT), which had previously been viewed as the frontrunner for a tie-up with the fast-growing social media company. Microsoft shares ticked lower in pre-market trading, extending losses from Friday.
“Global markets are kicking off the week on an optimistic footing, with M&A activity and vaccine developments helping to lift spirits after recent declines,” Josh Mahony, senior market analyst at IG, wrote in an email Monday.
The development between Oracle and TikTok “does help ease friction between the US and China, yet there will be questions over just how much data remains available to the main entity,” he added. “On the vaccine front, news that the AstraZeneca vaccine trial is to resume provides a significant boost after fears that complications with one participant could represent a significant hurdle to development. With Trump telling states to expect a vaccine before the election, there is a feeling that we are in the home straight in the push for an effective treatment.”
Other major corporations also announced massive new deals over the weekend. Chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA) announced it was purchasing SoftBank Group’s chip unit Arm Limited in a transaction valued at $40 billion – the largest ever in the semiconductor industry. Elsewhere, Gilead Sciences (GILD) agreed to purchase Immunomedics (IMMU) in an about $21 billion deal, adding the latter’s tumor-fighting drugs to the pharmaceutical giant’s portfolio. Shares of Gilead rose slipped 1% in early trading, while Immunomedics’ stock more than doubled.
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