Plus, Target saw its sales rise 17% during the holiday period, while Urban Outfitters saw its holiday sales fall, and Intel’s Swan is stepping down.
Stocks were slightly higher to start Wednesday with the Dow adding just 9 points, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 gained 0.1%, while the Nasdaq rose 0.3%.
The House has begun proceedings to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week. The chamber is expected to vote to impeach later today with the resolution showing broad support from Democrats and public backing from several prominent Republicans, including the No. 3 House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Cheney said of Trump’s behavior before and after last week’s attack in a statement, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution.” While no Senate Republicans have yet said publicly that they will vote to remove Trump, the New York Times reported yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell believes the president has committed impeachable offenses and is pleased Democrats are moving to impeach him.
The U.S. reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday with more than 4,320 deaths reported, marking the second time since the pandemic started that the U.S. reported more than 4,000 deaths from the virus in a single day. As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise, researchers in Ohio said today that they have discovered two new variants of the coronavirus that likely originated in the U.S., one of which became the dominant strain in Columbus, Ohio over the three weeks between late December and the beginning of January. Like the strains detected in the U.K. and South Africa, the U.S. mutations appear to make COVID-19 more contagious but are not expected to minimize the effectiveness of the vaccine, the researchers said. “It’s important that we don’t overreact to this new variant until we obtain additional data,” said Ohio State Wexner Medical Center chief scientific officer Peter Mohler. “We need to understand the impact of mutations on transmission of the virus, the prevalence of the strain in the population and whether it has a more significant impact on human health.”
Target‘s sales jumped during the holiday season. The big-box retailer said this morning that its same-store sales rose 17.2% in November and December, with curbside pickup surging 500% and the average shopping ticket rising 12%during the holiday season. CEO Brian Cornell said the strength has continued on into 2021. “We’ve seen continued strong sales trends in the new year,” Cornell said in a statement, adding that the company is focused on building on “the significant market share we gained throughout 2020.”
Urban Outfitters didn’t fare so well. The retailer’s shares are down nearly 3% this morning after the company reported disappointing holiday sales late yesterday. The company said its total company sales fell 8.4% over the holiday shopping season from November through December, with same-store sales falling 9% in the period due to the coronavirus pandemic. Urban Outfitters, which also owns mall-staples Anthropologie and Free People, also said current CEO Trish Donnelly will be leaving her post effective January 31 to pursue another opportunity. Sheila Harrington, current CEO of Free People, will take over the top spot of Urban Outfitters while also continuing to oversee the Free People brand.
And Intel shares are up more than 7% this morning after it said CEO Bob Swan is stepping down effective February 15, and will be replaced by VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger. Swan was named CEO in January 2019 after serving as interim CEO for around six months, and during his tenure, the company has suffered blows from competitors. Gelsinger will be rejoining Intel, where he worked for more than 30 years before leaving in 2009 for EMC Corp. He has been CEO at VMWare since 2012. “After careful consideration, the board concluded that now is the right time to make this leadership change to draw on Pat’s technology and engineering expertise during the critical period of transformation at Intel,” said Chairman Omar Ishrak in a statement.
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Biomerica Inc (NASDAQ: BMRA): Biomerica shares gained as much as 51.6% yesterday following the company’s announcement that it has received a CE Mark for its new COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test for detection of the coronavirus infection, and has already received its first European orders. “We are pleased to launch the Biomerica COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test to help combat this ongoing global pandemic and which may help people become more confident about their own health,” Zack Irani, CEO at Biomerica, said in a statement. “While we are proud to be contributing to the management of the current global pandemic and help bring more normalcy into our lives, our primary focus remains the validation and commercialization of products that are based on our patented InFoods technology platform. We continue to believe our InFoods products could revolutionize the way people are diagnosed and treated for a variety of common diseases including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). As such, we see a large potential for helping the millions of patients suffering with IBS.”