U.S. Hiring Rose At Its Fastest Pace In Nearly A Year In July With Payrolls Rising By 943,000

Plus, Virgin Galactic shares are up after the company announced it is reopening ticket sales for its space flights, Novavax said it is delaying submission to the FDA for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine until the fourth quarter, and Levi Strauss is breaking into the athletic apparel industry in purchasing Beyond Yoga. 

Stocks were mixed at the open on Friday with the Dow adding 13 points, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 opened flat, while the Nasdaq dropped 0.2%.

Hiring rose at its fastest pace in nearly a year in July. The Labor Department reported this morning that nonfarm payrolls increased by 943,000 last month, while the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%. The increase represents the best gain since August 2020 and comes even amid rising fears about the COVID-19 delta variant and as companies struggle with a tight labor supply.  “It feels like a Goldilocks report,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global Ratings. “You have not too hot in terms of wages, but not too low in terms of job gains.” BlackRock senior portfolio manager Jeffrey Rosenberg agreed, saying, “This is a very strong report across all metrics. There’s very little that you could point to here that’s disappointing.”

JPMorgan quietly began pitching an in-house Bitcoin fund to its wealth management clients, according to a report from CoinDesk. The firm is offering its JPMorgan Private Bank customers a passively managed fund in partnership with NYDIG, a Bitcoin-focused institutional-grade platform for secure custody, execution, asset management, and more, and the fund will be presented to clients as the safest and cheapest Bitcoin investment vehicle available o private markets. JPMorgan Private Bank customers have also recently gained access to bitcoin funds from Grayscale Investments and Osprey Funds through JPMorgan brokerage accounts.

Virgin Galactic shares are up more than 6% this morning after the space tourism company announced it is reopening ticket sales. Tickets will start at $450,000 and will be sold as either a single seat, seat packages for couples, friends and family, or as entire flights. “We have a purposeful range of product offerings in order to satisfy the different ways people will want to share this experience of private astronaut flights,” CEO Michael Colglazier said. Sales will initially open up to the company’s “significant list of early hand-raisers,” with a “follow-on priority list” opened later for new customers. 

Novavax shares are down nearly 19% at the time of writing after the company announced that it will delay the submission of its COVID-19 vaccine to the FDA for emergency use authorization until the fourth quarter. Novavax has already filed for regulatory approval of the shot in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and plans to submit the vaccine for emergency use with the World Health Organization this month for global distribution via vaccine sharing initiatives. “We are highly encouraged by the filing of regulatory submissions in multiple markets, made in partnership with Serum Institute of India. We view these submissions as the first of many filings to come, which will allow NVX-CoV2373 to be made available at a global scale,” Stanley C. Erck, President and CEO of Novavax, said in a statement. “We continue to see the circulation of new variants and inequitable access to vaccine globally, demanding that we bring our COVID-19 vaccine  to market as swiftly as possible.”

And Levi Strauss announced it is buying athletic apparel brand Beyond Yoga, launching the jeans maker into the competitive activewear space. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Levi said it expects the acquisition will add more than $100 million to its net revenue next fiscal year. “This acquisition establishes LS&Co.’s presence in the fast-growing activewear segment with a brand with tremendous growth potential,” Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss, said in a statement. “The foundation the Beyond Yoga team has built, combined with LS&Co.’s resources, global reach and scale, make me confident that Beyond Yoga will become a powerful growth engine for LS&Co., and help drive our strategic priorities. Beyond Yoga’s values-led approach to business, centered on inclusivity and authenticity, makes it a natural fit to our company portfolio. We look forward to welcoming the Beyond Yoga team to LS&Co.”

Stocks We’re Watching

Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NTLA):Intellia Therapeutics shares jumped as much as 21% yesterday after the clinical-stage genome editing company announced fiscal second quarter results. “This quarter marked an exciting new chapter for Intellia. We presented the first clinical data in history supporting precision editing of a disease-causing gene within the body following a single, systemic dose of CRISPR/Cas9. These data open a new era of medicine – one that holds the potential of curing genetic disease,” Intellia President and CEO John Leonard, M.D., said in the earnings release. “We are well-positioned to build on this quarter’s momentum as we close in on a number of upcoming milestones. We look forward to initiating Phase 1 trials this year for our next two candidates, NTLA-2002 for HAE and NTLA-5001 for AML. We will also share additional interim data from NTLA-2001 later this year. With a strong financial position and a well-validated platform, we intend to expand and accelerate development across our full-spectrum pipeline.”