Boeing, Pfizer, Gilead, Covid-19 - 5 Things You Must Know Friday

Investors consider a stalemate in U.S. stimulus talks and efforts by global governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus; Boeing's 737 MAX declared safe by Europe's aviation regulator.

Here are five things you must know for Friday, Oct. 16:

1. -- Stock Futures Turn Higher on Pfizer Vaccine News

Stock futures turned higher Friday after Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report said it could apply for emergency use approval of its developing coronavirus vaccine treatment as early as next month if data from ongoing trials show its safe and effective.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90 points, S&P 500 futures gained 10 points and Nasdaq futures were up 64 points.

Pfizer's timeline for emergency use authorization approval is the most specific of any of the dozens of experimental coronavirus vaccines undergoing testing and follows pauses in trials from rivals AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report and Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Report over safety concerns.

Pfizer shares were up 1.78% to $37.20 in premarket trading. 

The Pfizer news comes as investors weigh a stalemate in U.S. stimulus negotiations and the economic impact of efforts by global governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump has told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the White could raise its virus relief offer above $1.8 trillion, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that reluctant GOP lawmakers wouldn't go along.

Mnuchin told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the chief negotiator for House Democrats, that "the president would weigh in with Leader McConnell should an agreement be reached,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted.

Waning hopes for a stimulus deal before Election Day sank markets on Thursday, as did an unexpected jump in U.S. jobless claims and a resurgence of virus cases rising in Europe, prompting aggressive clampdowns from governments in France and Britain to contain the outbreak.

“The markets’ on again off again love affair with an impending stimulus torrent masks the fact that investor uncertainty is bristling ahead of an expected choppy period in terms of headline risk,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi.

2. -- Friday's Calendar: Retail Sales and Schlumberger Earnings

The economic calendar in the U.S. Friday includes Retail Sales for September at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect sales in September to rise 0.8%, up from 0.6% in August. Excluding autos and gas, sales are expected to increase 0.5% last month.

The calendar also includes Industrial Production for September at 9:15 a.m. and Consumer Sentiment for October at 10 a.m.

Schlumberger  (SLB) - Get Schlumberger NV Report posted a third-quarter loss and lower-than-expected revenue as weaker oil prices amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and hurricane disruptions continued to impact the oil-exploration sector.

3. -- Boeing's 737 MAX Declared Safe by Europe Aviation Regulator

Boeing  (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report shares were rising in premarket trading after Europe’s top aviation regulator said changes made to the 737 MAX have made the plane safe enough to return to the region’s skies before the end of 2020.

After test flights conducted in September, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency will perform final document reviews ahead of a draft airworthiness directive it expects to issue next month, said Patrick Ky, EASA's executive director, Bloomberg reported.

The document reviews will be followed by four weeks of public comment, while the development of a so-called synthetic sensor to add redundancy will take 20 to 24 months, Ky said. The software-based sensor will be required on the larger Max 10 variant before its debut in 2022, and retrofitted onto other versions.

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“Our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us,” Ky said in an interview with Bloomberg. “What we discussed with Boeing is the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels.”

Boeing's 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following two crashes that killed 346 people. The plane maker has been pushing to meet its goal of having the 737 MAX back in the air by year-end.

Boeing shares were rising 3.96% to $170.74 in premarket trading Friday.

4. -- Gilead's Remdesivir Has No Substantial Effect on Covid-19 Mortality  Study

Shares of Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report were lower in premarket trading Friday after a clinical trial found the company's Covid-19 treatment remdesivir had no substantial effect on a patient’s chances of survival.

The trial by the World Health Organization, which studied the effects of remdesivir and three other potential drug regimens in 11,266 hospitalized patients, found that none of the treatments “substantially affected mortality” or reduced the need to ventilate patients, according to the Financial Times, which saw a copy of the study.

The results of the WHO trial also showed that the drugs had little effect on how long patients stayed in the hospital, the Financial Times reported.

The study from the WHO, which declined to comment, hasn't been peer reviewed.

Gilead said it was unclear whether conclusive findings could be drawn from the study results.

“The emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir,” Gilead told Reuters.

Gilead declined 0.76% in premarket trading to $62.48.

5. -- Twitter Back in Service After Widespread Outage

Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report experienced a widespread outage Thursday involving its application programming interface, but said the problems "appear to have returned to normal" as of about 8:15 pm. ET.

"We are continuing to monitor the issue, and things appear to have returned to normal," the company said in a statement on its status page. 

The stock was rising 0.37% to $46.20 in premarket trading.

The company said there was no sign of a security breach or hack. 

Twitter and social media giant Facebook  (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report received sharp criticism this week from Trump administration officials for limiting redistribution of a problematic New York Post story alleging misdeeds by former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. The story cited emails with metadata that suggested they were created by Russian security services.

Members of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee indicated Thursday they will hold a vote next week on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over allegations the company was abusing its power.