World shares mostly higher…COVID vaccine collaboration
BANGKOK (AP) – World shares have mostly been higher today as investors bet on eventual approval of a relatively big version of President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief bill. In early trading, Germany’s DAX gained 0.8%, the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.8% and Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 0.7%. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei closed higher, the Kospi in South Korea climbed 1.1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.5%. Dow and S&P futures are higher.
LONDON (AP) – U.K.-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and Germany’s CureVac say they plan to collaborate to develop new vaccines that can targeting emerging variants of COVID-19. The announcement comes as public health experts around the world raise concerns about mutations in the virus that may make existing vaccines less effective. The companies say “the increase in emerging variants with the potential to reduce the efficacy of first generation COVID-19 vaccines requires acceleration of efforts to develop vaccines against new variants to keep one step ahead of the pandemic.”
LONDON (AP) – Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock says a new study showing that a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine may reduce transmission of COVID-19 categorically supports the government’s strategy of taking more time between injections. Hancock tells Sky News that the preliminary findings show that the vaccine AstraZeneca developed with Oxford University cut transmission by two-thirds. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but was greeted with excitement by officials under pressure to justify the time lag between jabs. Spacing out second vaccine doses to 12 weeks is allowing Britain to inoculate more people more quickly with the first vaccine dose.
ROME (AP) – Italy’s president is expected to ask Mario Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief credited with saving the euro, to try to lead Italy through the coronavirus pandemic. President Sergio Mattarella summoned Draghi for a meeting today after last-ditch talks among squabbling politicians failed to produce a viable new coalition. Mattarella is expected to ask Draghi to try to form a non-political government to replace caretaker Premier Giuseppe Conte’s coalition of the 5-Star Movement and Democratic Party. Conte was forced to resign last month after ex-Premier Matteo Renzi pulled his ministers. Renzi had complained about Conte’s plan to spend more than 200 billion euros ($240 billion) in EU funds and loans to help the economy recover from the pandemic.
TOKYO (AP) – Sony Corp. says its fiscal third quarter profit jumped 62%, positioning the Japanese entertainment and electronics giant for a record annual profit as its bottom line got a healthy boost from its mega-hit animation film “Demon Slayer.” Tokyo-based Sony reports a $3.5 billion profit for the October-December period. Sony’s video-games sector thrived as people stuck at home for the coronavirus pandemic turned to such entertainment content. Sony also got a lift from the popularity of its PlayStation 5 console, which went on sale late last year, and did well in software and online-service sales, despite its launch costs.