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Tech Stumbles, CEO's Pledge Safe Vaccine Trial

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Stock market indexes are poised to take another big step down to start this first trading session of a holiday-shortened week, with the S&P 500 down 50 points, the Dow -260 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq off by a whopping 400 points — nearly 3.5% — a half-hour before the opening bell. The continuation of the pre-Labor Day selloff has now been complicated by a couple new headlines.

Tesla (TSLA - Free Report) shares are down 15% in today’s pre-market, after we find it had not been included in the S&P 500 index, as many had predicted. Shares had been bidding up ever-higher partly on the expectation that the major index would be including the electric car giant — which would have put it in position to be picked up by various ETFs and other funds that track indexes, thus leading to more shares bought overall.

The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold)-rated company has descended from the mountaintop of $428 per share (post-stock split), but has only pulled back to where it was trading in mid-August. Tesla is still up 386% year-to-date, which is nothing to sneeze at. But the fear is, if it can climb so high so quickly, might it slide back down just as fast?

Consider also the new development with Tesla upstart competitor Nikola (NKLA - Free Report) , which has just had 11% of its stake purchased by General Motors (GM - Free Report) , including the manufacture of it 100% electric pickup truck known as the Nikola Badger. Although Nikola had been seeing some favorable news over the summer, it had not been considered serious competition to Tesla at this stage. Its involvement with GM may change this outlook. Nikola shares are up 30% in today’s pre-market.

Pharma CEOs Pledge Safe Vaccine Trials

Chief executives from nine pharma and biopharma companies have signed a pledge to make Covid-19 safety a top priority, as phase-3 testing gets underway in a fast-paced environment for coming up with a cure. From giants like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report)  to smaller players like Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) , the pledge vows to “help public confidence” in bringing a safe vaccine to market. This follows the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) mandate that vaccine distribution centers be set up by November 1st, which just happens to be two days before the General Election.

Phase 3 testing is the final and most important phase prior to bringing a drug to market. It tests not only efficacy in human beings, but also its safety. Side-effects are common with new treatments, which is why testing samples in phase 3 are typically very large, and examination of unforeseen developments can take time and, in the worst cases, shut down a drug’s development.

With Operation Warp Speed advancing payouts to companies with promising vaccination drugs to immunize people from Covid-19 — probably the biggest key to returning society to its more-or-less normal state the soonest — the competition among pharma companies is huge. But this pledge signed by the companies’ executives displays a level of camaraderie among drug-makers to not rush a product to market that may have dire consequences with mass distribution. Shares of these companies are all down roughly 7% at this hour.

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