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When SPACs Attack! A New Force Is Invading Wall Street. - The Wall Street Journal
‘Blank check’ firms known as SPACs are in pursuit of America’s hottest startups. Is the invasion a sign of a market euphoria that can’t last?
The hottest thing in finance is four letters long. Former NBA star Shaquille ONeal has one. So does former House Speaker Paul Ryan. Same goes for silver-haired hedge-fund billionaire William Ackman. Its called a SPAC, and increasingly it is the favorite source of financing for private companies looking to go public. Richard Bransons space-exploration firm Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. went public through a SPAC in 2019, and sports-wagering firm DraftKings Inc. did so last year. Nearly 300 SPACs are now seeking deals, armed with about $90 billion in cash. And more are rolling out at a furious clipso far this year, an average of five new SPACs launched each business day. If you dont have your own SPAC, youre nobody, said Peter Atwater, founder of research firm Financial Insyghts. SPACswhich stands for special-purpose acquisition companiesare essentially big pools of cash listed on an exchange. Their purpose is to find a private company, buy it and take it public quickly. Some on Wall Street call them blank-check companies because the investors backing the SPAC put up their money months before an acquisition target is identified, trusting the people running the show to find a good deal. These deals are generating a lot of interest because they produce big paydays for their creators, make it easier for startups in hot industries such as electric vehicles to capitalize on a frothy run-up in the stock market and offer everyday investors a new path to a hot stock. When a SPAC buys a firm, it merges with it in a sort of accelerated IPO processa so-called reverse mergerwhile bypassing the normal scrutiny an IPO receives.
Lilly Antibody Drug Prevents Covid-19 in Nursing Homes, Study Finds - The Wall Street Journal
Drugmaker plans to ask U.S. health regulators to expand bamlanivimab’s use to protect nursing-home residents and staff from Covid-19
Eli Lilly & Co. said its antibody-based drug prevented Covid-19 among many residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, results that point to the drug complementing vaccines while inoculations increase. The drug, called bamlanivimab, reduced the risk of both staff and residents getting sick with Covid-19 by about 57% compared with a placebo, Lilly said Thursday. The effect was more pronounced among residents, the company said, an 80% reduction in risk of Covid-19. The findings signal the potential for a new preventive weapon that could augment the fledgling Covid-19 vaccination effort to stem the pandemic. Lilly said it would ask U.S. health regulators to widen the drugs authorized use to include protecting people in long-term-care facilities where someone has recently been diagnosed with Covid-19. The partial results were from a last-stage, or Phase 3, study conducted in partnership with the National Institutes of Health. Lilly disclosed the data in a news release and said it plans to publish full results in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Joe Biden Calls on Nation to ‘Start Afresh’ at Inauguration as 46th President - The Wall Street Journal
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire,” the new president said, adding “Let’s begin to listen to one another again.”
WASHINGTON Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States Wednesday, calling for unity as he assumed leadership of a nation battered by a pandemic and the recent storming of the U.S. Capitol.At a midday ceremony overshadowed by health and safety concerns, Mr. Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, repeating the oath of office on the west steps of the Capitol with his hand on a family Bible. The inauguration was attended by a relatively small, distanced audience, a contrast to the crowds that typically line the National Mall to celebrate a new administration.Declaring democracy has prevailed, Mr. Biden implored the public to stand together in the face of division and crisis. Before a crowd that included family and former presidents, but not former President Donald Trump, he said: We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue. Or rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. Kamala Harriswas sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, making history as the first female vice president. The first Black woman and first of Indian descent nominated on a major partys ticket, she becomes the highest-ranking woman ever in the presidential line of succession. In his inaugural address as the nation's 46th commander in chief, President Joe Biden called for unity as the path forward for the country. Photo: Getty Images The new president takes office as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the country, with the U.S. recently surpassing 400,000 reported deaths and unemployment claims rising to their highest point since the pandemic hit last March. He must also grapple with the divisions laid bare by the recent violence and the reckoning around racial justice, which came into focus with protests last summer. The first president to skip his successors inauguration in 150 years, Mr. Trump left Washington for Florida early in the morning. He questioned the results from the presidential race for months after Election Day, even though his legal team produced no evidence of fraud that could change the outcome. Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, did attend the proceedings Wednesday. With his inaugural address, Mr. Biden asked a deeply divided country to look past their differences and sought to draw a contrast with Mr. Trump, who took a combative approach to politics during his four years in office and had urged supporters to march to the Capitol before the riot on Jan. 6. Mr. Biden made no mention of his predecessor, but sought to use the moment as an inflection point for the nation. Lets start afresh, all of us. Lets begin to listen to one another again, Mr. Biden said, adding Politics doesnt have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Referencing the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob looking to stop certification of his victory, Mr. Biden stressed that they didnt succeed in disrupting democracy and declared: It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Mr. Biden asked those who opposed his candidacy during the contentious presidential election to give him a chance, pledging to be a president for all Americans. He also issued a call for truth and accuracy after the Capitol attack, criticizing lies told for power and for profit and saying that each of us has a duty and a responsibility to defend truth. President Joe Biden emphasized the need for unity and recovery after he was sworn in as the 46th president of the U.S, while Kamala Harris made history as the first Black woman and first of Indian descent to become vice president. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images He sought to put the moment in historical perspective, referencing Martin Luther King Jr. and the womens suffrage movement as he celebrated Ms. Harriss ascent to the vice presidency. Dont tell me things cant change, Mr. Biden said. Mr. Biden promised to fight divisions in the country, pointing to the rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat. And he stressed the challenges ahead, including the pandemic, racial inequities, climate change and instability on the world stage. Together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, he said. Of unity, not division, of light not darkness may this be the story that guides us. The president made his remarks during a ceremony that featured Lady Gaga singing the national anthem and an invocation from the Rev. Leo J. ODonovan, a Jesuit Catholic priest and theologian who served as president of Georgetown University. In the wake of the Capitol attack, security measures were heightened around the inauguration, with at least 20,000 National Guard troops in Washington, a massive perimeter around the Capitol and pleas from local officials that the public stay away. SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS What steps can President Biden take to unite his own party as well as work with Republicans? Join the conversation below. At 78 years old, Mr. Biden is the oldest person to assume the presidency, ending a lifelong pursuit of the office and capping a durable political run that began with his first Senate victory during Richard Nixons presidency. Mr. Bidens public career also has been marked by tragedy: the death of his first wife and daughter in a car crash shortly after his election to the Senate in 1972 and the passing of his 46-year-old son, Beau, who died of cancer in 2015 while Mr. Biden served as vice president. After the inauguration, Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris and their spouses visited Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They were joined by former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 96 and a cancer survivor, didnt attend the inauguration. President Trump said Wednesday during a send-off event at Joint Base Andrews that he wishes success for the new administration and will be back in some form. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP With his family, Mr. Biden then made his way to the White House, getting out of the motorcade to walk the final steps along Pennsylvania Avenue and pausing to greet journalists and others along the route. He and Dr. Biden posed on the steps of the White House before going inside. Looking to show immediate action, Mr. Biden arrived in the Oval Office late in the afternoon and began to sign executive orders as promised, including one rejoining the Paris climate accord and one ordering the wearing of masks on federal property. He was also expected to extend a pause on interest and principal payments for federal student loans, keep in place restrictions on evictions and foreclosures, and end bans on travel from 13 Muslim-majority and African nations. Theres no time to start like today, said Mr. Biden, who wore a mask as he signed the orders. He has also proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to help Americans weather the economic shock of the pandemic and pump more money into testing and vaccine distribution, as well as seeking an immigration overhaul. Mr. Biden told reporters that Mr. Trump had written him a very generous letter that was waiting for him when he arrived. Mr. Biden said he wouldnt talk about its contents until he spoke to Mr. Trump. As Mr. Biden took office, congratulations poured in from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the U.S. back to the Paris climate agreement. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he looked forward to working with Mr. Biden. And Micheál Martin, the prime minister of Ireland, where Mr. Biden has strong ancestral ties, hailed him as a true friend of Ireland. The inauguration day opened with a final split-screen involving the two presidential rivals. As Mr. Trump boarded Air Force One for his final trip to Florida as president, Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, departed Blair House, where they spent the night, to head to Mass with congressional leaders as he seeks to project unity in his early days in office. Inauguration restrictions Metro station closed M M Green zone restricted to residents or businesses M Red zone restricted to authorized vehicles M L St. K St. M M M Mass. Ave. M H St. N. Capitol St. Rock Creek Pkwy. 23rd St. 19th St. White House 14th St. M M 3rd St. M M F St. White House security perimeter M Penn. Ave. M Constitution Ave. 2nd Street National Mall closed Wednesday Capitol M Independence Ave. M M Potomac River M Tidal Basin 695 Arlington Cem. Metro closed 395 Metro station closed M M Green zone restricted to residents or businesses M Red zone restricted to authorized vehicles M L St. K St. M M M Mass. Ave. M H St. N. Capitol St. Rock Creek Pkwy. 23rd St. 19th St. White House 14th St. M M 3rd St. M M F St. White House security perimeter M Penn. Ave. M Capitol Constitution Ave. 2nd Street National Mall closed Wednesday M Independence Ave. M M Potomac River M Tidal Basin 695 Arlington Cem. Metro closed 395 Green zone restricted to residents or businesses Red zone restricted to authorized vehicles White House security perimeter Closed Metro station White House Capitol 695 395 Sources: Allied Universal; WMATA Mr. Trump exited the White House shortly after 8 a.m., on the way to Joint Base Andrews, where he took part in a brief farewell ceremony. After social-media platforms such as Twitter banned him, he has been a muted presence during his final days in office, but issued a flurry of pardons to allies and celebrities hours before he left. Before family and friends gathered at Andrews, Mr. Trump said it had been an incredible four years. He listed some of his policy achievements, offered his respects to the people who have suffered from the pandemic and said it was his greatest honor and privilege to have been your president. As Mr. Trump departed Washington, Mr. Biden and Dr. Biden traveled to the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where they attended Mass in Washington with four congressional leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.). Mr. Biden will be the second Catholic to serve as president after President Kennedy. The inauguration marks a shift to Democratic control in Washington, with the party holding the White House and narrow majorities in the House and the Senate. It signaled the end of Mr. Trumps administration, one week after the House impeached him on the charge that he incited the mob of supporters who overran the Capitol. Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. While Republicans participated Wednesday, tensions lingered from the fight over the election results. At an event at the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy raised the new administration, but said they had a momentous task ahead of them. I listened to your speech today. You talked about the tension and division, our task as leaders is to...dedicate ourselves to the values that all Americans share together, he said. Mr. Trump during his four years as president signed a sweeping tax cut into law, installed conservative judges on federal courts, including three Supreme Court justices, and brokered deals between Israel and some Gulf nations to normalize diplomatic relations. He failed to deliver on some key campaign promises, such as a health-care overhaul, unsettled some world leaders by exiting from international agreements and was widely criticized for his management of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twiceonce on the charge that he encouraged the Capitol riot and once on abuse-of-power and obstruction-of-Congress charges after he pressed the Ukrainian president to pursue investigations into Mr. Biden in 2019. The Senate acquitted him on the Ukraine charges; Mr. Trump is awaiting trial for his second impeachment. Write to Catherine Lucey at [email protected] and Ken Thomas at [email protected] Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Procter & Gamble Gets Shoppers to Pay Up - The Wall Street Journal
Sales jumped 8% in latest quarter, fueled by demand for high-end household products
Procter & Gamble Co. sales surged in the most recent quarter, fueled in part by demand for high-end household products from pricey dish soap to a $300 electric toothbrush. Despite a tough economic picture and high unemployment, the maker of Gillette razors and Pampers diapers said consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for products. The dynamic is playing out across the consumer-products industry, as more-affluent consumers fare better in this recession than those with lower income and cleaning and hygiene take on a higher priority across all segments of society during the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers are driven to products where they can say, I know that will deliver for me and my family, P&G operating chief Jon Moeller said. Consumer spending on food and household products considered either premium or super premium rose more than spending on mainstream, value-oriented and private-label products, according to data from market-research firm IRI, which looked at online and grocery purchases for the 12-week period ended Oct. 4, compared with a year earlier. Premium soap, household cleaners and paper towels saw the most growth, according to the study.
Trump Approves Deportation Protections for Venezuelans in U.S. Illegally - The Wall Street Journal
The action comes under the Deferred Enforced Departure program that offers deportation protections and work permits to immigrants in the country without authorization
WASHINGTONAs one of his final acts in office, President Trump has authorized a program to give work permits and deportation protections to Venezuelan immigrants in the U.S. without legal permission, an action President-elect Joe Biden had promised to take during the 2020 campaign. The designation formally known as Deferred Enforced Departure offers legal protections to any Venezuelan national present in the U.S. as of Jan. 20, 2021, for 18 months. That is likely to benefit at least 94,000 Venezuelans in the country without authorization as of 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute, though analysts believe the current number is likely higher. Mr. Trumps move is seen as a form of pressure the U.S. government can use against Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan authoritarian leader whom the Trump administration has targeted with sanctions, a limited travel ban and other measures. In Jan. 2019, the U.S. officially recognized the countrys opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuelas interim president. During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden said he would offer Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan immigrants should he win the election, addressing a major ask of the Venezuelan-American community in Florida that he was courting. TPS is roughly identical to the Deferred Enforced Departure program in the protections it offers. DED is issued directly by a president, while TPS must be approved by the Homeland Security secretary. Republicans and Democrats in Florida have been lobbying for the movesouth Florida is home to one of the largest Venezuelan populations in the U.S.and the White House has long waffled over whether to take the step.
New CDC Director Pledges to Speed Vaccination, Restore Trust in Agency - The Wall Street Journal
Rochelle Walensky will start as CDC director Wednesday after inauguration; ‘This is an emergency’
Rochelle Walensky, the incoming director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she will start her new job with a big to-do list: helping states fix Covid-19 vaccination programs and persuading exhausted Americans to wear masks and take other precautions. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Walensky said the agency will try to help people overcome doubts about Covid-19 vaccines and she vowed to increase public trust in the CDC. Dr. Walensky will take the helm of the CDC on Wednesday, as a highly transmissible mutant, or variant, of the novel coronavirus threatens to cause a new surge in infections in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign to stop the pandemic is off to a slow start, and surveys show many people in the U.S. are hesitant to get vaccinated. This is an emergency, Dr. Walensky said, as she got paperwork for her new job done so she could get right to work immediately after the change in administrations. New presidents often wait weeks or months to name CDC directors.
Keystone XL Oil Project Pledges Zero Carbon Emissions - The Wall Street Journal
Controversial pipeline would be powered by renewables, built by union labor in bid to avoid ax from Biden
WASHINGTONThe Keystone oil pipelines developer plans to announce a series of overhaulsincluding a pledge to use only renewable energyin a bid to win President-elect Joe Bidens support for the controversial project. Aides to Mr. Biden have previously said he plans to revoke the permit, and Canadas CBC News reported late Sunday that Mr. Biden plans to do so in one of his first actions after taking office this week. Mr. Bidens team declined to discuss that report, but has said his position on the pipeline hasnt changed. In a bid to save the project, Canadas TC Energy Corp. is committing to spend $1.7 billion on solar, wind and battery power to operate the partially completed 2,000-mile pipeline system between Alberta, in western Canada, and Texas, company officials say. They also are pledging to hire a union workforce and eliminate all greenhouse-gas emissions from operations by 2030. The companys plans reflect new realities at a time when Democrats are taking commanding positions in Washington, and in an era of growing environmental and social concerns.
India Tests Vaccine Superpowers With Covid-19 Inoculation Drive - The Wall Street Journal
South Asian nation plans to inoculate hundreds of millions in coming months
NEW DELHIIndia started a massive vaccination campaign this weekend, hoping to use its unique skills at mobilizing millions to progress quickly in its efforts to protect its populace from Covid-19. Hundreds of thousands of health-care workersthe first people to get the vaccineslined up across the country to get their shots, in a nationwide effort that tapped the talents of millions of people to make, deliver, register, administer, monitor and protect the shots, said Indias Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. India is targeting around 300,000 doses a day and will increase inoculations depending on how much vaccine is available, Mr. Vardhan said. The country aims to inoculate 300 million of its 1.3 billion people by August. Over the weekend it was still off the pace needed to hit that target, with around 191,000 people receiving shots on Saturday and 17,000 getting them on Sunday when the campaign was closed in most states. This is a huge exercise, said Mr. Vardhan, who wrote a book about Indias efforts to eradicate polio. India has tremendous experience in handling these issues. While some countries have struggled with the scale and complexity of a nationwide vaccine drive, India is confident it can do better because of its experience inoculating its poor populace and maintaining election infrastructure for close to one billion voters.
Fiat Chrysler, PSA Group merge to create new auto-making behemoth - Fox Business
The newly formed auto maker, called Stellantis, to start trading Monday in Europe and Tuesday in New York.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Peugeot-maker PSA Group cemented their trans-Atlantic merger Saturday, creating Stellantis NV, a global auto-making giant that executives say will have the heft needed to compete in a fast-changing industry. The deal, first agreed to in late 2019 and approved earlier this month by shareholders, comes as the global car business is rapidly shifting to new technologies, such as electric vehicles, and battling upstarts trying to upend everything from the way cars are engineered and built to how they are sold. Stellantis, derived from Latin term meaning " to brighten with stars," ranks as the world's third-largest auto maker by sales, according to 2019 figures, the latest available. At Friday's close, it was worth more than $51 billion. The newly formed car company plans to start trading under the ticker symbol STLA on the Paris and Milan stock exchanges Monday and in New York on Tuesday.
|FCAU||FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES N.V.||15.23||-0.79||-4.93%|
FAA Approves First Fully Automated Commercial Drone Flights - The Wall Street Journal
American Robotics granted permission to operate drones without hands-on piloting
U.S. aviation regulators have approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights, granting a small Massachusetts-based company permission to operate drones without hands-on piloting or direct observation by human controllers or observers. The decision by the Federal Aviation Administration limits operation of automated drones to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet, but is a potentially significant step in expanding commercial applications of drones for farmers, utilities, mining companies and other customers. It also represents another step in the FAAs broader effort to authorize widespread flights by shifting away from case-by-case exemptions for specific vehicles performing specific tasks. In approval documents posted on a government website Thursday, the FAA said that once such automated drone operations are conducted on a wider scale, they could mean efficiencies to many of the industries that fuel our economy such as agriculture, mining, transportation and certain manufacturing segments. The FAA previously allowed drones to inspect railroad tracks, pipelines and some industrial sites beyond the sight of pilots or spotters on the ground as long as such individuals were located relatively close by.
Officer in Pro-Trump Cap Claims He Rescued Endangered Colleagues - The Wall Street Journal
Capitol Police lieutenant was suspended for wearing MAGA hat during Jan. 6 riot
It was one of the images from the pro-Trump riot that shocked the country and outraged members of Congress: A police officer donning a red Make America Great Again cap and leading protesters through a mob into the U.S. Capitol. Within days, the officer was suspended. The officer, identified by The Wall Street Journal as Lt. Tarik Khalid Johnson, has told colleagues the images werent what they seemed. The MAGA cap was a ruse that was part of an unusual plan to rescue more than a dozen trapped police officers during the Jan. 6 riot, the officers said he told them. And one witness said the lieutenants action enabled a set of doors to the Capitol to be closed, shutting off an entry point to more intruders. Lt. Johnson, 45 years old, is one of three officers suspended after rioters overran law enforcement and endangered the lives of members of Congress as they were certifying the Electoral College votes to elect Joseph Biden as president. Investigations are active into several other officers actions that day, according to a congressional aide. Fellow officers said Lt. Johnson, who voted as a registered Democrat in the primary in Maryland last year, isnt known to them as a supporter of Mr. Trump, and some were surprised when a picture circulated of Lt. Johnson wearing the MAGA cap during the riot.
Stock Futures Slide on Tax Concerns - The Wall Street Journal
The S&P 500 is on track to end the week with losses as investors worry that new stimulus plans will lead to higher taxes
U.S. stock futures edged lower Friday as some investors grew concerned that President-elect Joe Bidens $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan could lead to higher taxes. Futures tied to the S&P 500 fell 0.3%, indicating the benchmark index may decline for a second day. Contracts tied to the Nasdaq-100 edged less than 0.1% lower and those linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.3%. The S&P 500 is on track to end the week lower, erasing some of the gains made in early January when the gauge rallied to a record high. Markets have for weeks cheered Democrats plans to expand government spending and bolster the economic rebound. But the size of Mr. Bidens plans, laid out late Thursday, served to check some of that optimism. The magnitude obviously was surprising on the upside, said Wei Li, head of investment strategy for BlackRock s exchange-traded fund and index investments for Europe, Middle East and Africa. With the Senate majority, [taxes] could be coming in the medium term and that is something the market has to assess as well. Investors are hoping that additional spending will help steer the U.S. economy through a winter that has seen high Covid-19 infection rates and worsening economic data. Figures released Thursday showed that the number of workers filing for jobless benefits posted its biggest weekly gain since the pandemic hit last March.