By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
• A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that Johnson & Johnson’s /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ +1.15% COVID-19 vaccine candidate generated neutralizing antibody titers in 100% of roughly 800 adult participants younger than 55 years old by day 57, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. “In addition, during 71 days of follow-up after the first dose, antibody titers further increased and stabilized, which suggests durability of the Ad26.COV2.S-elicited immune response,” the researchers wrote in the NEJM. The company’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate is a single-dose vaccine, though the Phase 1/2 trial also includes a cohort of participants who receives two doses. It is also currently being tested in a Phase 3 clinical trial. J&J said it plans to share additional data from this trial about the immune response in adults older than 55 later this month, and it also expects to release top-line data from the Phase 3 trial sometime in January.
• Lebanon is planning one of the strictest lockdowns of the pandemic starting Thursday, with an 11-day nationwide shutdown and 24-hour curfew, the Guardian reported. Residents must request special permission to leave the house and supermarkets are closed to the public and only allowed to deliver. The tough measures came after the country’s hospitals ran out of beds and daily infections hit a new high of 5,440 cases last week. Lebanon has a population of nearly six million.
• The German economy contracted by 5% in 2020 to mark its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis, broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. But the numbers published by Germany’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) showed the economy fared relatively well compared with some other European nations, thanks in part to the country’s resilient manufacturing base. The drop in gross domestic product (GDP) was also smaller than analysts had predicted and less severe than the record contraction of -5.7% in 2009 during the global financial crisis.
The Month Coronavirus Unraveled American Business - A WSJ Documentary
When the coronavirus tore through industry, commerce and society in March 2020, the U.S. economy came to a screeching halt. Top executives relive the tough decisions they made as they scrambled to weather the storm. Photo Illustration: Adele Morgan/The Wall Street Journal
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide climbed above 92.46 million on Thursday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, and the death toll rose above 1.98 million. About 51 million people have recovered from COVID-19.
The U.S. continues to lead the world by cases, at 23 million, or a quarter of the global tally, and deaths, at 386,577, or about a fifth of the global total. The U.S. has more than double the country with the next biggest case load, India, which has 10.5 million cases and is third in deaths at 151,727.
Brazil has the second highest death toll at 205,964 and is third by cases at 8.3 million.
Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 136,917 and 13th highest case tally at 1.6 million.
The U.K. has 3.2 million cases and 84,915 deaths, the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world.
China, where the virus was first discovered late last year, has had 97,324 confirmed cases and 4,796 deaths, according to its official numbers.
What’s the economy saying?
The number of Americans who applied for jobless benefits soared in early January to a five-month high of nearly 1 million as more workers lost their jobs due to business closures and restrictions to combat the winter resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, MarketWatch’s Jeffry Bartash reported.
Initial jobless claims filed traditionally through the states leapt by 181,000 to a seasonally adjusted 965,000 in the seven days ended Jan. 9, the government said Thursday. It was the highest level since August.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast initial jobless claims to total 800,000.
Another 284,470 applications were filed through a temporary federal-relief program.
Adding up new state and federal claims, the government received 1.44 million applications last week, based on actual or unadjusted figures. Combined claims have yet to drop below 1 million a week since last spring.
“Another week of bad economic data underscores the fact that the economy is weak and the job market is getting worse,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance.
Separately, the cost of imported goods rose 0.9% in December, matching the biggest increase in five months, largely because of higher prices for oil and industrial supplies.
The import price index rose for the seventh time in eight months, but inflation is still very low. Import prices, for example, have actually declined 0.3% in the past 12 months.
If fuel is excluded, import prices moved up a smaller 0.4% last month. Over the past year import prices minus fuel have risen a moderate 1.9%.U.S. export prices rose 0.6% in December.