Stocks end mixed as J&J vaccine pause weighs on Dow
The major averages had a mixed session, as the Nasdaq and S&P posted gains but the Dow lagged following news that the U.S. is recommending a pause in J&J's vaccine program due to blood clotting worries. Warmer CPI figures appeared to have largely been overlooked as the tame reaction in the bond market implies the Fed has done a good job in preparing the market for the surge in prices, convincing most that the accommodative policy stance will be left in place despite rising inflation.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the Consumer Price Index jumped 0.6% in March with the core rate rising 0.3%, both of which were hotter than projected.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) slipped 1.3% after the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a pause in the use of the company's COVID-19 vaccine following blood clotting cases. J&J said it will "proactively delay" the rollout of its vaccine in Europe "out of an abundance of caution." Later, Bloomberg reported that South Africa has suspended the rollout of J&J's vaccine, citing concerns about the blood clotting side effects.
On the flip side, competitor Moderna's (MRNA) shares closed 7.4% higher, with the company saying that the totality of the available safety data for its COVID vaccine "does not suggest an association with cerebral venus sinus thrombosis or thrombotic events."
Ahead of Coinbase's (COIN) anticipated direct listing tomorrow, MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis initiated coverage of the stock with a Buy rating and $600 price target.
Grab Holdings announced it intends to go public in the U.S. in partnership with Altimeter Growth (AGC) in "what is expected to be the largest-ever U.S. equity offering by a Southeast Asian company." The combined company expects its securities will be traded on NASDAQ under the symbol "GRAB" in the coming months. In other SPAC news, Bloomberg reported that Babylon, the U.K.-based medical startup that connects patients and doctors via an app, is in talks to go public in a merger with blank-check company Alkuri Global Acquisition (KURI).
Boeing (BA) reported gross orders of 196 of its bestselling 737 MAX aircraft in March. Accounting for cancellations, conversions and other order changes, it posted net positive orders of 40 planes, meaning its aircraft sales outpaced cancellations for the second month in a row in March.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Novocure (NVCR), which jumped 49.6% after the company was informed that the pre-specified interim analysis for the LUNAR trial would be accelerated given the length of accrual and the number of events observed to date. Shares of Novocure partner Zai Lab (ZLAB) also gained 22.1% after the update regarding the LUNAR trial that Goldman Sachs analyst Ziyi Chen called "surprisingly encouraging."
Among the notable losers was AdaptHealth (AHCO), which declined 19.7% after Denmark authorities formally charged co-CEO Luke McGee with alleged tax fraud. Also lower was Bally's (BALY), which fell 10.7% after announcing that the company and Gamesys Group (JKPTF) have agreed on definitive terms by which Bally's will combine with Gamesys in a deal that values the U.K. gambling company at $2.78B.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 68.13, or 0.2%, to 33,677.27, the Nasdaq gained 146.10, or 1.05%, to 13,996.10, and the S&P 500 advanced 13.60, or 0.33%, to 4,141.59.