Here's the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Investors assess vaccine news against Covid-19 case spikes
- Pfizer and BioNTech to request emergency authorization
- Conflicting developments around remdesivir
- CDC tells Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving
- Trump campaign won't give up challenges to Biden's victory
1. Investors assess vaccine news against Covid-19 case spikes
U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open Friday, in an investor sentiment tug-of-war between more encouraging Covid vaccine news and skyrocketing infections. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, as of Thursday's close, was up more than 11% in November.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they'll apply with the FDA on Friday for emergency use authorization for their vaccine, the first to go through the regulatory process. At the same time, the U.S. on Thursday recorded coronavirus cases of 187,883, by far the nation's single-worst day during the pandemic.
Two Covid stimulus developments are also being assessed on Wall Street.
First, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin decided to cut the Federal Reserve's lending power, although it could be reversed by Mnuchin or a new Biden Treasury secretary. Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday people are misunderstanding the Fed funding decision and said there’s plenty of firepower left. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans expressed disappointment on CNBC on Friday in the Treasury's move.
Second, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has agreed to resume negotiations with Democrats over a potential new coronavirus relief bill, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
2. Pfizer and BioNTech to request emergency authorization
The FDA's consideration of the Pfizer-BioNTech application for emergency use of their Covid-19 vaccine could take weeks. An advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been tentatively scheduled for early December. If the FDA approves, the vaccine will likely be limited and rolled out in phases, with health-care workers, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions getting the first inoculations. Friday's announcement came two days after Pfizer said a final data analysis found its vaccine with BioNTech was 95% effective in preventing Covid, was safe and appeared to fend off severe disease.
3. Conflicting developments around remdesivir
The FDA approved the emergency use of Eli Lilly's arthritis drug baricitinib, in combination with Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir, to treat Covid patients. Baricitinib, sold under the brand name of Olumiant, is an FDA-approved oral medication to treat moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis.
In stark contrast to U.S. regulatory guidance, a World Health Organization panel advised doctors Thursday against using remdesivir as a treatment for patients hospitalized with Covid, saying there is currently "no evidence" that it improves survival or shortens recovery time.
4. CDC urges Americans to stay home for Thanksgiving
The CDC is advising Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's Covid-19 incident manager, said the agency is concerned about crowds of people waiting around for planes, trains and buses. The CDC said Thanksgiving celebrations should be limited only to those people living in the same household for 14 days.
California is imposing an overnight curfew for nearly all residents. What officials are calling a limited stay-at-home order requires people who are not on essential errands to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., starting Saturday. The order will last until Dec. 21 but could be extended if disease trends don't improve.
5. Trump campaign won't give up challenges to Biden's victory
President Donald Trump and his allies are taking increasingly frantic steps to challenge the results of the 2020 election, including summoning Michigan state legislators to the White House as part of a longshot bid to overturn Joe Biden's victory. A hand tally of ballots cast in Georgia for the presidential race affirmed on Thursday Biden's narrow lead over Trump. Wisconsin on Friday will begin recounts in the state's two biggest and most Democratic counties. The Trump campaign paid a required $3 million fee for the recount.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contribute to this report.