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SPACs, Nasdaq, Rite Aid, AstraZeneca - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock futures are mixed and tech shares claw back some losses; the SEC opens an inquiry into the SPAC frenzy; Rite Aid slumps after lowering guidance; AstraZeneca' revises down vaccine efficacy rate.

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, March 25:

1. -- Stock Futures Turn Mixed, Oil Pulls Back

Stock futures turned mixed Thursday and tech shares clawed back some losses following the Nasdaq's 2% drop during the previous session.

Contracts linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 13 points, S&P 500 futures dropped 1 point and futures on the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 11 points.

Stocks ended broadly lower on Wall Street Wednesday, led by declines in tech stocks such as Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report and Facebook  (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report. The tech-heavy Nasdaq's decline was spurred by a rotation into cyclical stocks and away from high-growth equities, particularly rate-sensitive technology shares.

Speaking of rates, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield slipped to 1.605% early Thursday. The benchmark yield hit 1.754% last week, a 14-month high.

Traders will be monitoring closely a U.S. auction of seven-year notes. An auction of that maturity stumbled in February, triggering a spike in yields.

Oil prices in the U.S. declined Thursday following a rally sparked by a container ship blocking the Suez Canal and creating a bottleneck that could slow the delivery of more than 13 million barrels of crude through one of the world's busiest waterways. Efforts were underway to free the massive container vessel that has caused a backlog of ships for a third day.

2. -- Thursday's Calendar: GDP and Jobless Claims

The U.S. economic calendar on Thursday includes the third estimate of fourth-quarter Gross Domestic Product at 8:30 a.m. ET and Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.

Earnings reports are expected Thursday from Darden Restaurants  (DRI) - Get Darden Restaurants, Inc. Report, Blink Charging  (BLNK) - Get Blink Charging Co Report, FAT Brands  (FAT) - Get FAT Brands Inc. Report, Progress Software  (PRGS) - Get Progress Software Corporation Report and Momo  (MOMO) - Get Momo Inc Sponsored ADR Class A Report.

3. -- SEC Reportedly Opens Inquiry Into SPACs

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an inquiry into the blank check acquisition frenzy on Wall Street and is seeking information on how underwriters are managing the risks involved, Reuters reported.

The SEC in recent days sent letters to Wall Street banks seeking information on their dealings in special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, Reuters reported, citing four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

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The SEC letters asked the banks for voluntary information and the inquiry hasn't risen to the level of a formal investigation, two of the sources told Reuters.

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Deals in SPACs have sparked a frenzy on Wall Street. In the past 12 months, more than 700 SPACs have flocked to New York exchanges, seeking to raise about $227 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A SPAC is a listed shell company with no revenue that raises funds to acquire a profitable business and take it public, sidestepping the traditional initial public offering route. One of the most well-known SPAC IPOs was Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Virgin Galactic Report.

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4. -- Rite Aid Slumps on Lower Fiscal 2021 Guidance

Rite Aid  (RAD) - Get Rite Aid Corporation Report tumbled more than 14% in premarket trading after the drugstore chain lowered guidance for fiscal 2021, blaming a "soft" cough, cold and flu season.

Same-store sales fell about 5.6% in Rite Aid's fiscal fourth quarter, related mostly to a decline of nearly 37% percent in cough, cold and flu-related categories.

The company expects to report adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $425 million to $435 million for the fiscal year ended Feb. 27. Rite Aid previously had estimated Ebitda of $490 million to $520 million.

“During the fourth quarter our industry was impacted by a historically soft cough, cold and flu season, as well as the continued impacts of COVID on the deferral of elective procedures and related acute prescription volume and selling, general and administrative expenses,” CEO Heyward Donigan said in a statement.

The stock dropped 14.27% to $20.01 early Thursday.

5. -- AstraZeneca's Revised Vaccine Data Show Lower Efficacy Rate

AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report said its COVID-19 vaccine had an efficacy rate of 76%, lower than previously released data from a U.S. trial that were criticized as being outdated.

The British drugmaker released the updated data late Wednesday. The vaccine's 76% effectiveness compares with an earlier estimate of 79%, which was based on data gathered through Feb. 17.

The shot was 100% effective at preventing severe disease and death, similar to what the company said previously.

Earlier this week, U.S. health officials said AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from its COVID-19 vaccine trial, providing an “incomplete” view of the efficacy of the data.

The Data and Safety Monitoring Board said in a statement Tuesday that it was concerned the drugmaker may have provided an incomplete view of the vaccine's efficacy.

American depositary receipts of AstraZeneca rose less than 1% in premarket trading Thursday.