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Mnuchin says he and GOP leaders will discuss plan to pass targeted stimulus with Democrats' help

  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says that he will attempt to draft a targeted stimulus package with Democrats in the coming weeks.
  • Mnuchin said he will on Friday meet with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Minority Leader McCarthy.
  • "We are going to come up with a plan to sit down with Pelosi and Schumer and try to get a targeted bill done," Mnuchin said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that he and senior GOP lawmakers will attempt to draft a targeted stimulus package with Democrats in the coming weeks.

Mnuchin explained that he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will later Friday convene with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to brainstorm ideas for a more-targeted relief package.

Mnuchin, who with Meadows has led President Donald Trump's stimulus discussions for months, expressed some optimism that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., may be more open to a compromise following the 2020 elections.

"I can tell you Mark Meadows and I will be speaking with Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy this morning," he said. "And we are going to come up with a plan to sit down with Pelosi and Schumer and try to get a targeted bill done for the people that really need it. And hopefully the Democrats will work with us."

Spokespersons for Pelosi and Schumer did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment.

Lawmakers have for months struggled to pass additional economic stimulus with little signs of nearing the finish line. Congress passed a historic $2 trillion bill in March known as the CARES Act that included funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, enhanced unemployment benefits and $1,200 direct payments to most U.S. workers.

But many of those stimulus provisions expired or were depleted over the course of the summer, igniting debate on Capitol Hill over whether they need to be revitalized.

Democrats have argued for more robust spending to not only extend unemployment benefits and the PPP, but to also help support state and local governments that have seen steep budgetary deficits due to the coronavirus's impact on business.

The White House and Senate Republicans, who say they are more concerned about the price tag, have called for smaller, more targeted measures that would restrict aid to the hardest-hit industries like travel, restaurants and hospitality.

"I understand that the Democrats didn't want us to do anything before the election because they didn't want to do something that could be helpful to the president," Mnuchin added Friday morning. "But I had hoped, now that we're now past the election, that the Democrats would now work with us."

Democrats control the House and will hold a more narrow majority when the next Congress starts in January. Republicans have a Senate majority now, and two January runoff elections in Georgia will determine whether they keep it for the next two years. Democrats picked up one Senate seat in this month's elections.

President-elect Joe Biden has backed Democrats' push for a bill that costs at least $2.2 trillion.

The secretary's comments were taken with even greater interest Friday morning, less than a day after the Treasury Department said it would not try to extend a handful of lending programs instituted with the Federal Reserve during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding for those programs is set to expire at the end of the year and would require Congress's approval if Mnuchin wished to prolong their expiration.

The lending facilities cover corporate bond buying, loans to state and local governments and the Main Street Lending Program to small- and medium-sized businesses. The Fed said it wanted the programs extended.

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Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks little changed as tech shares bounce

  • Technology shares in the region rose in Thursday morning trade after the sector bounced overnight stateside.
  • In recent sessions, investors have moved out of technology and "stay-at-home" stocks in favor of cyclicals that would benefit from an economic recovery.
  • Despite positive news on the vaccine front, the pandemic situation remains severe with the U.S. recently setting a new record of average daily cases while the United Kingdom reported its highest daily deaths since May.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were little changed following an overnight bounce for tech stocks on Wall Street as a recent rotation into cyclicals paused.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.6% in early trade while the Topix index was fractionally lower. In South Korea, the Kospi dipped 0.33%.

Shares of Australia nudged higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 gaining about 0.1%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares traded fractionally lower.

Technology shares in the region rose in Thursday morning trade after the sector bounced overnight stateside.

In Japan, Softbank Group shares jumped 1.93%. Game maker Nintendo also surged 2.57%. Over in South Korea, Kakao's stock gained 1.27%.

In recent sessions, investors have moved out of technology and "stay-at-home" stocks in favor of cyclicals that would benefit from an economic recovery. That came following a Monday announcement by Pfizer and BioNTech that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection.

Still, the pandemic situation remains severe, with the U.S. recently setting a new record of average daily cases while the United Kingdom reported its highest daily deaths since May.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed 0.8% higher at 3,572.66 while the Nasdaq Composite ended its trading day 2% higher at 11,786.43. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lagged as it close 23.29 points lower at 29,397.63.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.043 after seeing levels above 93.1 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.41 per dollar, still off levels below 104.3 against the greenback seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7281, having seen levels around $0.73 yesterday.

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World News

Trump tries to claim victory even as ballots are being counted in several states — NBC has not made a call

  • President Trump claimed victory even though millions of legitimate votes had yet to be counted and races in half a dozen swing states still had not been called.
  • "This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country," Trump said in a White House speech shortly before 2:30 a.m.
  • "We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop," Trump said more than an hour after the final U.S. polls closed in Alaska.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump falsely claimed early Wednesday that he had won the presidential election, even though millions of legitimate votes had yet to be counted and a half-dozen battleground states were still not called.

"A very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise [people who voted for me] and we won't stand for this," Trump told supporters in the White House shortly before 2:30 a.m.

More than an hour earlier, Democrat Joe Biden told supporters he's confident about winning the presidential election and urged Americans to be patient.

In his East Wing comments, Trump said: "We were getting ready for a big celebration. We were winning everything, and all of a sudden it was just called off."

"We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop," Trump continued more than an hour after the final U.S. polls closed in Alaska. "We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o'clock in the morning and add them to the list."

It was unclear what Trump meant by "going to the Supreme Court," given that the nation's highest court is rarely the first judicial venue for a case, but rather, it reviews lower court rulings.

The White House referred CNBC to the Trump campaign when asked about Trump's suggestion that he would involve the Supreme Court in the election. The campaign didn't immediately respond to the query.

"This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country," Trump said in his rambling statement.

"It's a very sad moment to me, a very sad moment, and we are going to win this," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, we already have won this, so I want to thank all of our supporters and I want to thank everybody that worked with us."

Trump's election night claim of victory was not a spontaneous response to favorable results in key states, however, as he would have people believe. 

Instead, it has been months in the making. As Trump has trailed Biden in polls, he has sought to undermine faith in the multiday process of vote tallying, and to lay the groundwork for insisting that the only valid election results were those tallied on election night.

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic necessitated that millions of Americans vote by mail this year, Trump has also worked to sow doubts in the integrity of mail-in voting, baselessly claiming that votes cast by mail are rife with "fraud." 

He has shared outlandish conspiracies about mail-in ballots being altered somewhere on the path from the voter to the local election board. 

He has also amplified isolated reports of misplaced or discarded ballots, claiming that these anecdotal events were symptomatic of something much bigger than a few votes. 

In September, Trump seized upon a report of nine ballots found discarded along a highway in Pennsylvania, claiming they were evidence of Democrats trying to "steal" the election from him. 

 "They throw them out if they have the name Trump on it, I guess," Trump said of the ballots, some of which were blank and some of which were filled out for Trump. 

In reality, voters in Pennsylvania this year are on track to cast more than 5 million votes, making the fate of just nine ballots statistically insignificant. 

But it's not just Trump alone, making wild claims with no follow through. 

Trump's reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee have spent millions of dollars this year challenging individual states' efforts to expand mail-in voting in response to the pandemic. 

Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey and Montana are just some of the states where Trump's lawyers have gone to court to try to prevent the expansion of mail-in voting. 

Their arguments often boiled down to the same baseless claims of fraud that Trump himself has pushed, and as a result, they've seen their lawsuits tossed out by judges at the state and federal levels.

The president's willingness to undermine a cornerstone of democracy — the integrity of the individual vote — stretches back much farther than this year. 

During his first campaign for president, Trump amplified and spread false claims that the election would be "rigged" in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

Back then, it wasn't mail-in ballots that Trump claimed would be the culprits. Instead, it was undocumented immigrants somehow casting millions of illegal ballots for Clinton. 

Even after Trump won the Electoral College tally in November 2016, he continued to insist that the election had been marred by fraud. 

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," Trump tweeted in late November 2016. 

For the past four years, professional fact checkers have regularly disproved Trump's claims of rigged elections. 

But so far, that hasn't stopped Trump. 

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Business

LLY Pauses COVID-19 Antibody Trial, JNJ Boosts Annual Outlook, Double Whammy For GOSS

Today’s Daily Dose brings you news about Lilly temporarily halting phase III trial of COVID-19 antibody, Gossamer Bio’s oral GB001 flunking in both asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis trials, encouraging data from Regeneron/Sanofi’s Dupixent trial, and Johnson & Johnson’s rosy outlook.

Read on…

1. Lilly Pauses Phase III trial of COVID-19 Antibody

A phase III trial evaluating Eli Lilly and Co.’s (LLY) investigational monoclonal antibody LY-CoV555 in combination with standard of care Gilead SciencesInc.’s (GILD) Remdesivir in hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been paused due to a potential safety concern, according to reports.

Launched in August, the phase III study, dubbed ACTIV-3, was initially designed to enroll about 300 volunteers who have been hospitalized with mild to moderate COVID-19 and is led by the National Institutes of Health.

Another NIH-led phase III study of LY-CoV555, dubbed ACTIV-2, is ongoing in patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 who have not been hospitalized.

Last week, Lilly had submitted an initial request for emergency use authorization for LY-CoV555 monotherapy in higher-risk patients who have been recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 based on data from an interim analysis of another trial, dubbed BLAZE-1, which is a phase II study.

It is not known whether the pausing of the ACTIV-3 study will impact the other ongoing LY-CoV555 trials.

On Monday, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced that it is temporarily suspending a phase III study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, JNJ-78436735, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.

In September, AstraZeneca plc’s (AZN) phase III trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, which was underway in the U.S., UK, Brazil, South Africa, and other countries, was put on hold over a safety issue. While the phase III trial has resumed in other countries now, it continues to remain on hold in the U.S.

LLY closed Tuesday’s trading at $150.08, down 2.85%.

2. Double Whammy for Gossamer as GB001 Fails In Two Trials

Shares of Gossamer Bio Inc. (GOSS) plunged more than 25% on Tuesday, following disappointing data from its phase II trials of oral GB001 in asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis.

In a phase IIb trial of oral GB001 in patients with moderate-to-severe eosinophilic asthma, dubbed LEDA, the primary endpoint of asthma worsening was not met. However, statistically significant improvements in the secondary endpoint of time to first asthma worsening compared to placebo were observed.

The company noted that it will discuss its findings related to oral GB001 in asthma with global regulatory authorities and continue discussions with potential strategic partners.

In a phase IIa trial of oral GB001 in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with and without nasal polyps, dubbed TITAN, the primary endpoint of change from baseline in *SNOT-22 score at Week 16, and the secondary endpoint of change from baseline to Week 16 in nasal polyp score were not met. (*SNOT-22 or Sino-Nasal Outcome Test is a validated questionnaire that assesses patients with chronic rhinosinusitis).

The company has decided not to pursue the development of GB001 in chronic rhinosinusitis.

GOSS closed Tuesday’s trading at $10.09, down 25.75%.

3. JNJ Boosts Annual Outlook

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which reported better-than-expected third-quarter financial results on Tuesday, has boosted its outlook for full-year 2020.

On an adjusted basis, net earnings for the third quarter of 2020 rose to $5.87 billion or $2.20 per share from $5.67 billion or $2.12 per share in the year-ago quarter. On average, Wall Street analysts expected earnings of $1.98 per share.

Sales for the recent third quarter were $21.08 billion compared to $20.73 billion in the same quarter last year and well above analysts’ consensus estimate of $20.20 billion.

Looking ahead, the company now expects operational sales to range between $82.0 billion and $82.8 billion, up from its prior forecast range of $81.0 billion and $82.5 billion. The consensus estimate for sales predicted by Wall Street analysts for the year is $81.03 billion.

JNJ closed Tuesday’s trading at $148.36, down 2.29%.

4. Regeneron/Sanofi’s Cash Cow Dupixent Does It Again!

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN) and Sanofi’s (SNY) pivotal phase III trial of Dupixent in children aged 6 to 11 years with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe asthma has met its primary and all key secondary endpoints.

Despite standard-of-care therapy such as inhaled corticosteroids, children with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe asthma are said to be at risk of severe asthma attacks and this often leads to frequent hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

In the phase III trial, dubbed LIBERTY ASTHMA VOYAGE, Dupixent significantly reduced severe asthma attacks by up to 65% over one year compared to placebo. In addition, the drug was associated with a significant and rapid improvement in lung function within two weeks and it was sustained for up to 52 weeks.

Commenting on the trial results, John Reed, Global Head of Research and Development at Sanofi, said, “Dupixent is the only biologic shown in a controlled Phase 3 trial to improve lung function in children, which is generally consistent with results seen in the adolescent and adult trials”.

The companies are planning to make U.S. and EU regulatory submissions, seeking approval for Dupixent for children aged 6-11 years with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe asthma, by the first quarter of 2021.

Dupixent is already approved for the treatment of patients aged 6 years and older with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, as an add-on maintenance treatment in patients with moderate-to-severe asthma aged 12 years and older and as an add-on maintenance treatment in adult patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis.

The drug recorded annual sales of $2.32 billion in 2019. SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges expects Dupixent to bring in sales of $3.86 billion in 2020.

REGN closed Tuesday’s trading at $607.98, up 1.07%.

5. Stocks That Moved On No News

Aethlon Medical Inc. (AEMD) closed Tuesday’s trading at $1.97, up 33.11%.

SOS Limited (SOS) closed Tuesday’s trading at $2.69, up 27.49%.

BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (BVXV) closed Tuesday’s trading at $40.79, up 19.90%.

Liquidia Technologies, Inc. (LQDA) closed Tuesday’s trading at $4.08, down 29.53%.

Avenue Therapeutics Inc. (ATXI) closed Tuesday’s trading at $3.87, down 14.57%.

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Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks rise as investors watch Trump's health condition following his Covid-19 diagnosis

  • Investorswatched for developments surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump's health after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
  • Markets in China are closed on Monday for a holiday.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific traded higher Monday morning as investors watched for developments on U.S. President Donald Trump's health after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia jumped in morning trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 up about 2.2% as shares of the country's major banks surged: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group gained 3.98%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 2.75%, Westpac rose 4.04% and National Australia Bank soared 3.69%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.34% in early trade as the Topix index gained 1.68%. South Korea's Kospi added 0.35%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan traded 0.41% higher.

Markets in China are closed on Monday for a holiday.

Investors likely continued to watch the situation surrounding Trump's health, with questions remaining over his condition after his doctors announced Sunday that they had begun treating him with dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for severe cases of Covid-19. Still, the U.S. president's physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Sunday that his condition has improved and may be discharged as soon as Monday.

The U.S. president was transferred to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday after he was given antiviral drug remdesivir. 

Meanwhile, Trump's Democratic challenger at the upcoming November presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden, tested negative for the coronavirus — according to his campaign.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 93.831 after its decline last week from levels above 94.4

The Japanese yen traded at 105.51 per dollar after strengthening sharply late last week to levels around 105 against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7177 after its rise last week from levels below $0.707.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up about 1% to $39.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also advanced 1.27% to $37.52 per barrel.

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