Shares on Wall Street recorded a negative close as firming U.S. Treasury yields outweighed optimism about an improvement in the country’s economy. The Dow Jones (DJI) shed 1.8% for the week, while the S&P 500 (GSPC) and the Nasdaq (IXIC) slid 2.45% and 4.9%, respectively. Major tech names such as Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Tesla (TSLA) dropped throughout all sessions during the week, with stocks recording losses between 1.5% and 14%.

A major factor weighing on shares was the hardening of yields as investors sold U.S. bonds on expectations of higher inflation that will come along with an economic expansion. Expectations that the higher inflation will force tightening of the central bank’s monetary policy also weighed on the shares. However, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony over the week, indicating that the loose monetary policy is here to stay for some time, helped markets trim some of its losses. The 10-year yield rose 0.369 percentage points during February, the largest one-month increase in the yield since November 2016.

Meanwhile, U.S. coronavirus deaths also crossed a grim milestone of 500,000 as the country ramps up its vaccination drives.

Top Stories This Week

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine gets U.S. FDA approval

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a COVID-19 vaccine shot from Johnon & Johnson (JNJ) over the weekend, marking the first single-dose vaccine in the world to be approved. J&J has already begun shipping the vaccine to the U.S. government, an indication that the first set of doses could be given in the coming week.

Snap Summary
 The development is a major boost for mass-vaccination campaigns as health authorities around the world are scurrying for a new source of doses to inoculate its population. The single-dose shot is also significantas it has favourable temperature requirements for storage and transportation. This could help in ramping up vaccinations in developing nations that don’t possess expensive freezers to preserve the shots.

Beyond Meat inks deals with McDonald’s, Yum Brands

Beyond Meat (BYND) struck deals with fast-food giants McDonald’s (MCD) and Yum Brands (YUM) while reporting a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss. Both Beyond Meat and Yum will also work towards making exclusive menu items for KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut over the next several years.

Snap Summary The agreements signal an increasing attempt by major brands to experiment with plant-based meat options, as the companies and individuals around the world look to cut down on carbon footprint and change their lifestyle habits. The development also comes at a time when the company has said it expects to release two updated versions of its meatless burger patties this spring, which are “its juiciest burgers yet”.

Best Buy braces for challenging dynamics in the next few months

Best Buy (BBY), a consumer electronics retailer, forecasts some challenges ahead as its rivals slash prices to maintain sales momentum amid easing in pandemic-led tailwinds. The company expects higher sales in the first quarter, although profits could be weighed down.

Snap Summary
The electronics retailer’s outlook comes at a time when frenzied buying by consumers due to stay-at-home is seeing some steadying trends. Along with increased vaccination rates and minor signs of steadying in coronavirus infections and deaths, the situation brings forward the timeline of a return to normalcy, which is likely to weigh on consumers’ purchase decisions for their homes. 

Moderna expects sales of $18.4 billion from COVID-19 vaccine this year

Moderna (MRNA) has forecast a major sales target from its coronavirus vaccine this year that has put it on a path to report a profit for the first time since its inception in 2010. The outlook comes on the heels of Pfizer’s  (PFE) $15-billion share of sales target from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Snap Summary
 The projections by the vaccine maker underscores the major demand and revenue streams from the COVID-19 vaccine, going forward, with further research for new variants only likely to add to its sales numbers. Its next-generation shot is another tailwind as the vaccine could be stored in refrigerators instead of freezers that will smoothen its logistics too.

GameStop adds 151% in value over the week

Shares of GameStop (GME) closed 6% lower on Friday but closed the week with over a 150% gain in a surge that puzzled several analysts. Options market activity had suggested investors were pinning hopes on higher prices, higher volatility, or both.

Snap Summary
GameStop was at the centre of a major retail-buying storm in the past two months, when online media-fuelled bets propelled its shares multi-fold before they came down crashing. While U.S. lawmakers are probing the volatile rise and fall in their shares, bets continue to flow unpredictably and raise concerns about investor interest in such shares.

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