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Moderna Warns on Omicron; Powell, Yellen Face Senate - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks slump as Omicron concerns resurface; Moderna CEO cautions on vaccine efficacy against new variant; Powell and Yellen to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on CARES Act; FTC orders supply chain probe and cloud adoption software group HashiCorp seeks $13 billion valuation in upcoming Nasdaq IPO.

Here are five things you must know for Monday, November 30:

1. -- Stock Futures  

U.S. equity futures slumped lower again Tuesday, while Treasury bond yields and tumbled and oil prices tumbled, as markets around the world headed back into retreat following comments on vaccine efficacy from Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel.

In an interview with London's Financial Times, Bancel warned the the drugmaker's existing vaccine would likely experience a "material drop" in effectiveness against the new Omicron variant, compared to the Delta strain, and noted that any new vaccine would likely take months to develop, manufacture and deliver.

Bancel's comments followed a cautious outlook on growth and inflation from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who is slated to testify before the Senate Banking Committee later today. In prepared remarks, Powell said that notably high inflation rates would likely linger "well into next year", adding that the new Omicron variant "pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty."

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 410 point opening bell slump while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 44 point retreat. Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite are indicating a 75 point decline at the start of trading as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields slump to 1.429%, in overnight trading.

2. -- Moderna Cautions on Vaccine Efficacy Against Omicron

Morderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report shares slumped lower in pre-market trading after the drugmaker cautioned that its Covid vaccine may not be as effective in fighting the new Omicron variant when compared to its success against other strains.

In an interview with London's Financial Times, CEO Stephane Bancel said the existing messenger-RNA based vaccine would likely experience a "material drop" in effectiveness against the new Omicron variant, compared to the Delta strain, and noted that any new vaccine would likely take months to develop, manufacture and deliver.

"I think it's going to be a material drop. I just don't know how much because we need to wait for the data," he told the paper. "But all the scientists I've talked to are like 'this is not going to be good'".

Earlier this week, Moderna's chief medical officer told the BBC that it may take "a couple of weeks" before it can be determined if Omicron is resistant to current vaccine structures, adding that any new dose would likely be reading in "early 2022".

Moderna shares were marked 4.4% lower in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $352.31 each.

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3. -- Fed Chair Powell And Treasury Secretary Yellen Appear Before Senate Banking Committee 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, as well as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, are likely to focus on the impact of the Omicron variant on both inflation prospects and growth risks as they appear before the Senate Banking Committee later today.

The Committee's focus on the CARES Act, however, will likely provide enough leeway to discuss both the Fed's current forecasts for consumer prices and its plans to combat the fastest inflation in more than three decades as Chairman Powell prepares for his re-nomination effort later next month. 

Yellen, a former Fed Chair herself, told CNBC on Monday that the Fed "needs to play an important role to make sure that (high inflation) doesn't become endemic" and added her confidence in Powell's ability to lead the central bank into a new four-year term.

4. --  Federal Trade Commission Orders Supply Chain Probe

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into the impact of supply chain disruptions on consumer prices, ordering the nation's largest retailers to hand over information to determine if there are any anti-competitive practices that needed to be addressed.

The move followed a White House meeting between President Joe Biden and several retail executives -- including Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch -- that looked into supply chain issues heading into the holiday season, including extended hours at ports and transit improvements.

FTC Chair Lina Khan said the agency's probe would "shed light on market conditions and business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects", while White House officials said Biden would make public remarks on the Monday meeting later this week.

5. --  HashiCorp Seeks $13 Billion Valuation in Nasdaq IPO

HashiCorp., a San Francisco-based software firm focused on cloud infrastructure, is aiming for a $13 billion valuation in its upcoming Nasdaq IPO.

The group, founded in 2012, will price around 15.3 million shares between $68 and $72 each in a deal lead by Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. Proceeds from the top end of that range would likely be around $1.1 billion, the company said. 

"Our platform provides a comprehensive operating model that can be employed across public cloud, private cloud, and multi-cloud hybrid environments," the company said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "We unlock the true opportunity associated with running in the cloud by empowering all practitioners with automation while maintaining scalability, reliability, and security in the cloud."

"According to IDC, the global public cloud services marketis expected to be $704.1 billion by 2024, and we believe it is still in the infant stages of adoption," the company added.