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The daily business briefing: August 27, 2020



a close up of a sign: This photo taken on November 21, 2019, shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris.


© LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images
This photo taken on November 21, 2019, shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris.

Table of Contents

1.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer announced early Thursday that he had resigned just three months after taking the job, because the “political environment has sharply changed.” President Trump says the popular short-video app, owned by China’s ByteDance, is a security risk, and he has ordered a ban on the social media company unless its U.S. operations are sold to an American company. ByteDance is suing the Trump administration over the executive order, but also talking to Microsoft about a potential sale. “I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer said. TikTok will be led on an interim basis by U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas. [The Associated Press, Reuters]

2.

Moderna said Wednesday that its potential COVID-19 vaccine induced promising immune responses in older adults during an early-stage clinical trial. The biotech firm tested its experimental vaccine on 10 adults between 56 and 70, and 10 aged 71 and older. The older patients produced neutralizing antibodies believed necessary to build immunity at similar rates as the younger patients. The news offered hope for protecting older people who have been identified as vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19. Moderna is among the leading firms racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Its candidate, mRNA-1273, is undergoing late-stage human trials to judge its safety and effectiveness. [Reuters]

3.

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos on Wednesday became the first person with a net worth of more than $200 billion in the four decades Forbes has tracked the wealth of the world’s richest people. Bezos’ wealth surged by $4.9 billion on Wednesday as Amazon’s stock gained 2 percent, pushing his net worth to $204.6 billion, $90 billion more than that of the world’s second richest person, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. And Bezos’ fortune took a hit last year, when ex-wife MacKenzie Scott received 25 percent of his Amazon stake in their divorce settlement. Even adjusted for inflation, Bezos’ current fortune is the biggest in history. Gates was the first person to cross the $100-billion milestone. In 1999, near the height of the dot-com bubble, Gates’ net worth surpassed $100 billion to about $158 billion in today’s dollars. [Forbes]

4.

Novavax expects to file for U.S. approval of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in December, CEO Stanley Erck told Czech newspaper Hospodarske Noviny in an interview released Thursday. Erck said that since part of the vaccine will be produced in the company’s Czech plant that country will have access to the product, too. Novavax on Monday announced that it had started lining up volunteers for the second phase of its vaccine candidate’s clinical trials. Abbott Laboratories said on Wednesday that it had won U.S. marketing authorization for its COVID-19 portable antigen test, which can provide results within 15 minutes. The test, about the size of a credit card, could be used to screen people at large gatherings. It will sell for $5. [Reuters]

5.

U.S. stock index futures edged down early Thursday as investors awaited an address from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were all down by 0.2 percent or more. Powell is speaking at the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he is expected to introduce a new pandemic-era tool to fight economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Powell is expected to acknowledge that inflation is lagging below the central bank’s 2 percent target, and signal greater flexibility on inflation, with the Fed shifting to an “average inflation” target because periods of below-average price growth can offset periods of high inflation. [CNBC]

Video: What CEOs are expecting for 2020 in terms of company growth, risks and the economy (CNBC)

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