Plus, Pfizer is seeking permission to store its COVID-19 vaccine at higher temperatures, Uber lost a key case in the U.K., and Tesla lowered its prices on two vehicles.
Stocks were higher to start Friday, with the Dow adding just 10 points, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, while the Nasdaq gained 0.5%.
Bitcoin has surged past $54,000 this morning, bringing its total market cap above $1 trillion. The cryptocurrency is now up more than 83% so far this year. Sending the digital asset higher this morning was a tweet from Elon Musk that called bitcoin the “less dumb” version of cash. “When fiat currency has negative real interest, only a fool wouldn’t look elsewhere,” Mush said, referencing the sub-zero returns on cash caused by negative-yielding debt. “Having some bitcoin, which is simply a less dumb form of liquidity than cash, is adventurous enough for an S&P 500 company. Bitcoin is almost as bs as fiat money. The key word is ‘almost.’”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a large stimulus package is necessary to get the economy back to full strength following yesterday’s worse-than-expected jobs report. “We think it’s very important to have a big package [that] addresses the pain this has caused – 15 million Americans behind on their rent, 2 million adults and 12 million children who don’t have enough to eat, small businesses failing,” Yellen said in an interview with CNBC. “I think the price of doing too little is much higher than the price of doing something big. We think that the benefits will far outweighs the costs in the longer run.”
Pfizer said this morning that it is seeking permission from the FDA to store its COVID-19 vaccine for two weeks at temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators. The pharma giant—which was developed the vaccine in partnership with BioNTech—said it has submitted new data that shows the shot is stable between minus 13 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than the ultra-cold freezers that it is currently approved to be stored in, and if approved, it could simplify distribution logistics. “We have been continuously performing stability studies to support the production of the vaccine at commercial scale, with the goal of making the vaccine as accessible as possible for healthcare providers and people across the U.S. and around the world,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “If approved, this new storage option would offer pharmacies and vaccination centers greater flexibility in how they manage their vaccine supply.”
Uber shares are down slightly today after it lost a key legal fight in the U.K. The country’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling on Friday that the company’s drivers are workers, not independent contractors. The ruling could have huge implications for the ride hailing company’s U.K. business, as well as the broader gig economy. “We respect the Court’s decision which focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe. “Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.” Uber added that the ruling could jeopardize the company’s business model in the U.K. as it will result in higher costs for Uber.
And Tesla cut the prices for its cheapest Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, and raised prices for the Performance versions of the models. The Model 3 Standard Range Plus is now $36,990, while the Model Y Standard Range has fallen to $39,990. CEO Elon Musk has regularly lamented that Tesla’s cars are too expensive and discussed a $25,000 vehicle at last Fall’s “Battery Day” event, and the company has a history of reducing prices in an effort to drive deliveries. “Adjustments may reflect mix strategy,” said Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy. “We believe Tesla strategy is to cut price (funded by cost cuts) to spur volume increase.”
Stocks We’re Watching
Hudbay Minerals Inc (NYSE: HBM): Hudbay shares are up nearly 8% this morning after the company reported fiscal fourth quarter and full-year 2020 results. “We achieved all of our production and operating cost targets in 2020, continuing our trend of strong operating and financial performance while executing on our growth initiatives,” said Peter Kukielski, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our Peru operations continued to perform well despite COVID-19 challenges and the team successfully completed the Consulta Previa process for Pampacancha. Our Manitoba operations demonstrated strength and resilience as they remedied the 777 shaft incident quickly and efficiently, while confirming the opportunity to increase the Lalor mine production rate in the long-term. The New Britannia project remains on track for first gold pour in the third quarter of 2021. While 2021 remains a year of investment for Hudbay, it is also the year in which we expect to start to see the benefits of these high-return investments as we grow our production through Pampacancha and New Britannia, and create significant value for our stakeholders.”