White House names COVID-19 vaccine finalists, Trump applauds 'big jobs report'
Catch up on the top industries and stocks that were impacted, or were predicted to be impacted, by the comments, actions and policies of President Donald Trump and his administration with this weekly recap compiled by The Fly:
1. 'REALLY BIG JOBS REPORT': On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shocked the market by reporting that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.5 million in May, and the unemployment rate fell to 13.3.%. Bloomberg's consensus forecast called for a decline of 7.5M jobs and a 19.0% unemployment rate last month. In response, President Trump took to Twitter first, then a podium at the White House, to share his view on the "really big jobs report."
2. COVID VACCINE FINALISTS: Five companies have been selected by the Trump administration as the most likely to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus, The New York Times' Noah Weiland and David E. Sanger reported on Wednesday, citing senior officials. The announcement of the decision will be made at the White House in the next few weeks, government officials said. The five companies are Moderna (MRNA), AstraZeneca (AZN), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK) and Pfizer (PFE). By narrowing the field, the White House is betting it can identify the most promising vaccines at an early stage, speed along the process of determining which will work and ensure that the winner or winners can be quickly manufactured in large quantities, the publication added.
Among the notable names left out were Inovio (INO) and Novavax (NVAX), which both saw their stocks slide following the Times' report. Commenting on the omission, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Charles Duncan said that leaving out DNA and protein-based vaccine platform approaches is "short-sighted," and argued that Inovio’s INO-4800 and Novavax's NVX-CoV2373 "should not be disregarded as candidates." On Thursday after market close, Novavax announced that the company has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense for the manufacturing of NVX-CoV2373, Novavax' COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
During an interview on Friday on CNBC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is "cautiously optimistic" that "at least one" Phase 3 trial testing a COVID_19 vaccine candidate can start in early July and that "a few others" should be able to start by early fall. If things break correctly, "we can have an answer" by the end of this calendar year or early in 2021 if there is a safe and effective vaccine that has been found, added Fauci.
3. CHINESE PASSENGER AIRLINE RULES: On Wednesday, the U.S. Transportation Department issued an order that would have barred Chinese passenger airlines such as Air China (AIRYY), China Eastern Airlines (CEA) and China Southern Airlines (ZNH) from flying to the United States.
However, on Friday CNBC's Leslie Josephs reported that the Trump Administration dropped its plan to prohibit Chinese passenger airlines from flying to the U.S. following comments from officials there that foreign airlines can fly into China. A new order will restrict Chinese carriers to two weekly flights to the U.S., which the Department of Transportation said is necessary "to restore a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers in the scheduled passenger service marketplace." U.S. airlines such as American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL), and United Airlines (UAL) will soon be permitted to fly one flight per week into China, CNBC's Phil Lebeau added.
4. TRUMP CAMPAIGN ACCUSES SNAP OF ‘RIGGING’ ELECTION: President Trump’s campaign claimed in a statement that Snapchat (SNAP) is “illegally using their corporate funding” to promote Joe Biden and rig the 2020 presidential election.
This came after Snap said that President Trump's verified account on the social media platform will no longer be promoted within the app after management concluded that the president's tweets over the weekend promoted violence, according to The Verge's Casey Newton. RealDonaldTrump, the president's account, will still be on the platform and continue to appear on search results, but will no longer appear in Snapchat's Discover tab, Newton said. The company was quoted as having said: "We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover. Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America."
5. ZUCKERBERG DEFENDS INACTION ON TRUMP POSTS: Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg told staff that he stood by his decision not to challenge inflammatory posts on the company's platform by President Trump, Reuters' Katie Paul and Elizabeth Culliford reported. This came after a group of Facebook workers walked off the job, complaining that the social media giant should have acted against the president's posts containing the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," the authors noted. A company spokeswoman added that Zuckerberg acknowledged the decision had upset many workers and said the company was looking into "non-binary" options beyond either keeping such posts on the platform or removing them.
6. TARIFFS ON COUNTRIES SEEKING INTERNET TAX: The Trump administration is taking the first step to arrange tariffs against a number of trading partners unless they abandon proposals to impose taxes that would fall heavily on the largest American internet companies such as Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), Facebook and Amazon (AMZN), Josh Zumbrun of the Wall Street Journal reported. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, or USTR, said that it was initializing probes into tax measures called digital-services taxes that are being proposed in many countries as a way to tax internet commerce. The USTR also said it was scrutinizing a European Union-level proposal, as well as proposals from Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the U.K.
"Week in Review" is The Fly's weekly recap of its recurring series of "Trump Effect" exclusive stories.