Coronavirus Treatments, AstraZeneca, TikTok - 5 Things You Must Know Monday

Stock futures rise as investors embrace progress in coronavirus treatments; the FDA allows for expanded use of blood plasma to treat Covid-19; report says Trump administration could fast-track AstraZeneca  coronavirus vaccine.
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Here are five things you must know for Monday, Aug. 24:

1. -- Stock Futures Rise on Progress in Coronavirus Treatments

Stock futures were rising Monday as investors embraced progress in coronavirus treatments.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 269 points, S&P 500 futures gained 27 points and Nasdaq futures were up 105 points after the Food and Drug Administration expanded access to a virus treatment using blood plasma from recovered patients.

Global cases of the coronavirus have topped 23.4 million, and deaths have risen to nearly 809,000. In the U.S., there have been 5.7 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 176,808 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“Whenever there is any news that is seen as something that is helping the battle against coronavirus it gives a boost to sentiment,” Shane Oliver, a Sydney-based chief economist at AMP, told Reuters.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7% last week, its fourth straight weekly gain.

2. -- FDA Allows for Expanded Use of Blood Plasma to Treat Covid-19

The Food and Drug Administration issued an "emergency use authorization" for convalescent plasma as a treatment of Covid-19 in hospitalized patients, the Trump administration said.

The FDA said that based on the scientific evidence currently available, it has concluded the antibody-rich plasma "may be effective" in treating Covid-19. It also concluded that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

“This is a powerful therapy,” President Donald Trump said Sunday at a White House news conference. “Today’s action will dramatically expand access to this treatment.”

Trump earlier had made claims over Twitter that the "deep state" or others at the FDA were trying to slow the approval of coronavirus vaccines and therapies to diminish his re-election chances.

"(Sunday's) action follows the FDA’s extensive review of the science and data generated over the past several months stemming from efforts to facilitate emergency access to convalescent plasma for patients as clinical trials to definitively demonstrate safety and efficacy remain ongoing," the FDA said in a statement.

3. -- Trump Reportedly Plans to Fast Track AstraZeneca Vaccine 

AstraZeneca   (AZN) - Get Report shares were rising in premarket trading Monday after a report said the Trump administration was weighing going around traditional regulatory standards to "fast-track" a possible coronavirus vaccine being developed by the company and the Oxford University.

According to the Financial Times, the Food and Drug Administration could give an “emergency use authorization” by as early as October to a vaccine the company and the university have been developing. 

AstraZeneca, however, told TheStreet it "has not discussed emergency use authorization with the U.S. government and it would be premature to speculate on that possibility"

The company added that late stage phase 2 and 3 trials for the candidate, dubbed "AZD1222," are ongoing in the U.K. and other markets.

"We do not anticipate efficacy results until later this year," the company added.

The study on the U.K. vaccine candidate so far only has looked at it in a third the number of people as required by the U.S. regulators, who say at at least 30,000 volunteers would have to be included in trial before any authorization. AstraZeneca is planning a study with 30,000 participants, but that would come after the current trial.

American depositary receipts of AstraZeneca rose 3.39% to $57.60 in premarket trading Monday.

4. -- This Week's Calendar Highlights

Palo Alto Networks  (PANW) - Get Report is expected to report earnings Monday.

Later in the week reports will be issued by Best Buy  (BBY) - Get Report, Hewlett Packard Enterprise  (HPE) - Get Report, Dick's Sporting Goods  (DKS) - Get Report, PVH  (PVH) - Get Report, Dollar General  (DG) - Get Report, Dollar Tree  (DLTR) - Get Report, Gap  (GPS) - Get Report, VMware  (VMW) - Get Report, Dell Technologies  (DELL) - Get Report and Campbell Soup  (CPB) - Get Report.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Monday includes the Chicago Fed National Activity Index for July at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Economic reports later in the week include the latest estimate on second quarter Gross Domestic Product, Durable Goods Orders and Consumer Confidence.

The Federal Reserve will hold its annual retreat at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, virtually on Thursday and Friday. 

5. -- TikTok to File Lawsuit Challenging Trump's Executive Order

TikTok said it would file a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order banning the popular short video app from the United States.

TikTok is expected to claim the Trump administration failed to follow due process when it issued an executive order Aug. 6 that set in motion a 45-day period for TikTok to find a buyer for its U.S. operations, The Wall Street Journal reported. The order would bar people in the U.S. from transactions with ByteDance, TikTok's China-based owner.

The Journal, reported separately Monday that Facebook  (FB) - Get Report CEO Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. officials and lawmakers late last year that that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatened American business, and should be a bigger concern than reining in Facebook.

Zuckerberg discussed TikTok specifically in meetings with several senators, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the meetings.