From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.
The tech stocks that have been responsible for the lion’s share of the market gains this summer were responsible for dragging the entire stock market lower this week, before attempting to bounce back by week’s end. Shares of companies like Apple, Facebook, and Zoom led the Nasdaq down again on Tuesday, putting the index in official “correction” territory in a three-day tumble. Tesla had its worst day ever, down 21 percent. The Dow and S&P also had their worst three-day stretches in months. In the back half of the week, better-than-expected earnings from the likes of Oracle and Peloton helped make up some of the pullback, though all the major indices ended the shortened week down significantly.
JCPenney, which filed for bankruptcy in May, reached a deal this week to sell its stores and remaining assets to two mall operators, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties, averting a liquidation of the once-iconic department store chain. The $800 million rescue, once finalized, should avoid the closure of about 650 stores, many of which are anchor tenants of malls — the kind of high-profile retail footprints that mall operators can’t afford to have sitting vacant right now. Meanwhile, J. Crew, another retailer battered by the pandemic, says it has emerged from bankruptcy, while the NYC discount mecca Century 21 became the latest fashion chain to succumb. On the luxury front, the French giant LVMH is pulling out of its planned acquisition of Tiffany & Co., citing U.S. tariffs on French goods. While brick-and-mortar retailers struggle, e-commerce continues to boom: Amazon says it now has 33,000 salaried job openings across the company.
VACCINE BUMP IN THE ROAD
AstraZeneca voluntarily paused Phase 3 clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine after a patient experienced adverse side effects — a development that public health experts say is not unusual in large trials with tens of thousands of patients. The CEO of AstraZeneca was one of nine pharma chief executives who signed an open letter pledging that they won’t cut corners on a vaccine, even if they face pressure from governments. Dr. Fauci reiterated in interviews this week that it’s “unlikely” that a vaccine will be ready by the election with perhaps a more likely focus on early-to-mid 2021 approval. Then the question becomes one of logistics, money, and resources: how do you roll out a vaccine to billions of people around the world?
NIKOLA-GM TAKE ON TESLA
Nikola Motors, a competitor to Tesla that has not yet delivered a single vehicle, entered into a partnership with General Motors that will see the Detroit heavyweight take an 11 percent stake in the upstart. In return, Nikola will get access to GM’s considerable resources, like assembly lines, battery technology, and its very own factory to build the Nikola Badger, a direct competitor to the Tesla Cybertruck. Unlike Tesla, which builds its cars atop gigantic lithium ion batteries, Nikola is developing hydrogen fuel-cell technology, which has a troubled past (and which Elon Musk has called “fool sells”). Investors liked the news of the GM tie-up, sending Nikola shares soaring — until they plunged 10 percent after a short-seller accused the company of fraud. Nikola shot back, accusing the firm of a “hit job” that was “driven by greed.”
WALL STREET GLASS CEILING SHATTERS
Citigroup has chosen a veteran banker, Jane Fraser, to be its next CEO, making Fraser the first woman to take the top job at a major financial institution. Fraser, 53, has been at Citi for 16 years — she’s currently the head of its Global Consumer Banking unit — and is widely regarded on Wall Street as an obvious choice for the chief executive gig at the nation’s third-largest bank. Fraser, a working mom with two sons, once said: “You can’t have it all at the same time. You can have it all, spread over decades.” Fraser will succeed Michael Corbat when he retires in February, having served as CEO since 2012.