Gilead, Pfizer, Roblox, Mnuchin, Federal Reserve - 5 Things You Must Know Friday

Stock futures are mixed as Wall Street monitors a rift between the Treasury and the Federal Reserve over emergency pandemic programs; WHO says Gilead Sciences' remdesivir shouldn't be used as a treatment for patients hospitalized with Covid-19; Roblox files to go public.
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Here are five things you must know for Friday, Nov. 20:

1. -- Stock Futures Mixed Amid Treasury and Federal Reserve Spat

Stock futures were mixed Friday as Wall Street monitored a disagreement between the Treasury and the Federal Reserve over emergency pandemic programs.

Equities pared some losses after Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report and its German partner, BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report, said they will apply Friday to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36 points, S&P 500 futures were down 2 points and Nasdaq futures rose 17 points.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the pandemic lending programs at the Federal Reserve would expire on Dec. 31, causing a rift with the central bank just as coronavirus infections surge across the country and states resort to shutdowns to try to stem the spread of the virus.

In a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Mnuchin asked for the return of $455 billion allocated to the Treasury under the CARES Act last spring, much of it set aside for Fed programs meant to buoy the economy. Mnuchin said the programs had served their purpose and the funds instead should be available for Congress to reallocate.

The Fed voiced its displeasure with the decision, writing in an emailed statement that it “would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy.”

The disagreement between the Treasury and the Fed comes as more than 1 million new coronavirus cases have been reported over the past week and after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to avoid travel for Thanksgiving to mitigate the virus spread.

The rift also comes amid signals that Congress may resume long-stalled stimulus talks.

Asian stocks ended mostly higher, though shares in Tokyo finished Friday's session down 0.42%.

For more on Asian markets read:

Muddy Waters Targets Chinese Social Media Company Joyy Days After Baidu Deal

2. -- Gilead's Remdesivir Shouldn't Be Used for Covid-19: WHO

Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Report shares slumped nearly 2% in premarket trading Friday after a panel at the World Health Organization advised doctors against using the company's antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for patients hospitalized with Covid-19.

The WHO said currently there was “no evidence” that remdesivir improves survival rates or the need for ventilation in a report published in British medical journal, The BMJ.

The advice from the WHO comes less than a month after the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for adults and children 12 years of age and older who require hospitalization for Covid-19. Remdesivir was one of the drugs administered to President Donald Trump when he was diagnosed with the disease in early October.

The WHO's recommendation followed a global trial sponsored by the the group that last month found remdesivir didn’t reduce deaths. 

Gilead spokesman Chris Ridley, in an emailed statement to CNBC, said remdesivir “is recognized as a standard of care for the treatment of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 in guidelines from numerous credible national organizations, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Infectious Diseases Society of America, Japan, U.K. and Germany.”

“We are disappointed the WHO guidelines appear to ignore this evidence at a time when cases are dramatically increasing around the world," the statement added.

3. -- Gaming Company Roblox Files to Go Public

Gaming company Roblox picked a good time to go public as demand for online gaming has surged during the coronavirus pandemic and further stay-at-home orders and lockdowns loom in the U.S.

Roblox users navigate through a virtual 3D world created by other users and developers on the site. Users’ avatars can interact with other players in the so-called metaverse and buy Robux, a virtual currency that can be used to pay for one-time or special experiences within the Roblox world.

Roblox said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it currently has 31.1 million daily active users.

The company said revenue in the third quarter jumped 91% from a year earlier to $242.2 million. Roblox reported a loss in the period of $48 million has lost more than $203 million during the first nine months of the year.

4. -- Friday's Calendar: Foot Locker Earnings

Earnings reports are expected Friday from Foot Locker  (FL) - Get Report and Hibbett Sports  (HIBB) - Get Report.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Friday includes speeches on energy from Dallas Federal Reserve President Rob Kaplan and Kansas City Fed President Esther George at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The joint virtual conference, hosted by the Dallas Fed and Kansas City Fed, will focus on the outlook for the global crude oil market, opportunities and risks of the global energy transition and energy finance.

5. -- Workday Says Covid-19 'Headwinds' to Weigh on Growth

Workday  (WDAY) - Get Report was falling in premarket trading after the maker of human resources and accounting tools posted a positive earnings report but warned that "headwinds due to Covid remain."

The cloud-software company said it couldn't give a forecast for fiscal 2022 amid so much Covid-19 uncertainty.

“While we have seen some recent stability in the underlying environment, headwinds due to Covid remain, particularly to net new bookings,” Chief Financial Officer Robynne Sisco said on a conference call. “Given our subscription model, these headwinds that have impacted us full-year will be more fully evident in next-year subscription revenue, weighing on our growth in the near term.” 

The stock fell 4% to $221.55.