Wall Street Opens Lower as Today’s Lockdowns Overshadow Tomorrow’s Cures

U.S. stock markets opened modestly lower on Tuesday, paring premarket losses after the Food and Drug Administration indicated it was ready to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use later this week. Prior to the release of the FDA's analysis of data from the two companies' stage three trial of their Covid-19 vaccine, markets had been indicated down by more, a response to fresh evidence that the pandemic is effectively still running out of control in much of the U.S. By 9:45 AM ET (1545 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 20 points, or 0.1% at 30,049, while the S&P 500 was down 0.3% and the NASDAQ Composite was down 0.4%. Among early movers, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock, which had soared another 7% on Monday to a new record high, fell 2.0% in response to the news that the company planned to raise up to $5 billion via an equity distribution scheme that would see it dribble stock out into the market over an extended time. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) stock rose 1.1% and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) stock rose 2.2% to another new record high after the FDA’s data dump acknowledged that their drug “met the prescribed success criteria” for treating Covid-19. The FDA committee responsible for authorizing new medicines meets on Thursday to take a decision on authorizing the vaccine for emergency use. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) stock rose 4.7% on hopes that its drug, which employs the same biological technology as the Pfizer/BioNTech one, will also soon be approved. The FDA news comes against a backdrop of tightening restrictions on business and social life across the U.S., as the numbers of dead and hospitalized with the virus continue to break records. Over the last week, an average 2,204 American have died of the coronavirus, while the number of those admitted to hospital has risen above 102,000 for the first time, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Elsewhere, Uber (NYSE:UBER) stock fell 2.1% after the ride-hailing company paid $400 million to autonomous driving startup Aurora to take its own self-driving technology operations off its hands, the latest in a string of money-losing businesses that Uber has shed this year as it struggles to move toward profitability. The company will take a 26% stake in Aurora in return, and thus keep some upside exposure.

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