Good morning, Bull Sheeters. There’s no debate: it’s a risk-on day as the equities markets chug higher in much of Asia and Europe, following Wednesday’s big gains in the U.S. The markets appear to be clinging to any hopes whatsoever that a stimulus deal, even a partial one, will get done.
Meanwhile, neither side won a knockout blow in last night’s VP debate. The polls continue to point to a Joe Biden victory, and, gasp, Wall Street seems okay with that. With the prospect of a contested election beginning to fade, investors are growing more optimistic about the markets.
Let’s see where investors are putting their money.
- The major Asia indexes are mixed with Japan’s Nikkei up nearly 1% in afternoon trading.
- New Zealand believes it’s succeeded in stamping out the coronavirus from the country. It’s said this before, but this time it’s gone 10 days with zero cases linked to an earlier cluster.
- The flights to nowhere were such a hit that now Singapore will unveil cruise excursions to the same nowhere land. If you want a cruise-to-nowhere ticket, call either Genting Cruise Lines or Royal Caribbean International.
- The European bourses are in the green with Germany’s Dax up 0.6% out of the gates.
- Beneath the public sparring in the post-Brexit trade deal talks, there are some signs of progress. The pound sterling has regained ground on renewed optimism, however slight, an agreement can be reached.
- Boris Johnson is banking on a home-buying spree to keep Britain’s teetering economy upright. There’s a catch: lending rules would have to be relaxed to levels last seen in the go-go years predating the global financial crisis.
- U.S. futures point to another positive open, looking to build on yesterday’s gains. Wednesday’s rally of nearly 2% was fueled by optimism that stimulus talks aren’t completely dead. A bailout lifeline for the airlines at least is looking better than it did 24 hours ago.
- Shares in Eli Lilly closed up 3.3% on Wednesday after the drug giant said it has seen such promising results from its COVID treatment—a kind of antibody cocktail—that it would apply to the FDA for emergency-use authorization.
- Citing ““significant ongoing deficiencies,” regulators fined Citigroup $400 million, ending for now a long running investigation into the lender’s risk-management operations. Shares are down slightly in pre-market trading.
- Gold is up, nudging just below $1,900/ounce.
- The dollar is down.
- Crude is up slightly, with Brent trading above $42/barrel.
On stimulus and the markets, economy
So you’re saying, there’s a chance?
UBS chief economist Paul Donavan is unconvinced.
Goldman ain’t buying it either.
Three months out?… nine months out?
Bank on the S&P 500 year-end at 3,600, Goldman reiterates.
All bets are off if there’s a constitutional crisis, however (again Goldman.)
I just wanted to weigh in on the big news from yesterday. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for their work in developing Crispr-Cas9.
What’s Crispr? In short, it’s a gene-editing tool. Why am I mentioning it here in a newsletter about the markets? Because it’s one of those rare scientific breakthroughs that within a few short years leapt out of the laboratory to spur all kinds of advances in medicine and agriculture, and has spawned a number of promising biotech startups. Crispr is being used to treat blindness and cancer. In the U.S., you can buy a Crispr apple that doesn’t brown. The number of Crispr-inspired innovations are too numerous to list here.
Doudna discussed Crispr’s impact on science at Fortune Brainstorm Health in July. I just love this quote:
“Sometimes there’s a long period of time without a lot of change, and then things accumulate and suddenly there’s literally a revolution that changes everybody’s thinking, that alters the way we understand our world,” Doudna said. “I think we’re in that moment right now.”
Two years ago, as a barely solvent freelance journalist, I traveled to Dusseldorf to meet with Martin Beye, a giant in the world of evolutionary biology. His lab uses the Crispr tool to breed genetically modified honeybees. I watched as biology undergrads bred “transgenic” honeybees. One by one, they injected a gene-manipulation solution into honeybee embryos and, some days later, voila, an otherwise unremarkable gene-edited queen emerged.
Beye’s work, aided greatly by Crispr, was a huge breakthrough in bee biology, and his research continues to be incredibly controversial to beekeepers and even some scientists. That’s why I went to visit him.
I wrote a lengthy feature about it for the Guardian.
Yes, there are days I’d more prefer to talk about bees than bulls and bears.
But never mind that. I just want to send out a hearty Bull Sheet congrats to Charpentier and Doudna. I look forward to seeing which doors your hard work will open up next.
Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow.
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