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J&J Vaccine Looks Ready for EUA; Lowe's (LOW) Beats in Q4

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Investors are filling in gaps this morning, bidding up major indexes in the pre-trading hours moderately. It’s been a sluggish couple weeks after a longer period of bullishness; peak valuations are likely prominent in this modest trepidation, along with a longer view of interest rates coming up potentially sooner than expected if the economy catches fire. The Dow is up 30 points, the Nasdaq up 15 and the S&P 500 +10.

Traders are still treading lightly, not veering too far either direction from breakeven. Yesterday’s Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) came in a bit higher than expected at 91.3 for February, from 88.9 posted for January. Consumers considering business conditions “good” went up for the month, while those who consider conditions “bad” went down. We are still a ways off, however, from the pre-pandemic CCI levels that were coming in hotter than 100 points.

This morning, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said it sees no specific safety concerns regarding the new Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) , which is the single-dose remedy which will greatly accelerate the amount of citizens immunized from the coronavirus. This report should effectively green-light an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the J&J vaccine, which had decent results in its phase-3 immunization testing.

Including the more challenging South African strain of Covid, the J&J shot proved 66% effective; 72% in the U.S. No hospitalizations were reported for the 40K patients tested, with side-effects reportedly the typical injection-site pain, headaches and the like. No U.K. or Brazil variants were tested in the study. Following an important advisor meeting this Friday, it is widely expected an EUA will be forthcoming as early as this weekend.

As far as Covid rates in the U.S., we are now back to daily case rates not seen since Halloween. We’re past the post-holiday season swell, on a current downward trend. Some expectations are for this to ramp back up again as more regions re-open their economies, but the vaccinations will go a long way to keep these rates relatively lower. More than 210 million doses have so far been administered, with more than 43 million Americans now fully vaccinated. Covid has claimed 500K American lives and 28 million cases overall.

Ahead of today’s opening bell, home improvement retailer Lowe’s (LOW - Free Report) outperformed estimates on both top and bottom lines: $1.33 per share posted a 9% earnings beat, while revenues of $20.31 billion topped the Zacks consensus by nearly 4%. The company — which competes directly with Home Depot (HD - Free Report) , which recorded slight beats yesterday — has not missed an earnings expectation since Q1 of 2019. For more on LOW’s earnings, click here.

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