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A roundup of some of the North American equities making moves in both directions today

On the rise

Moderna Inc. (MRNA-Q) soared on Monday after saying its experimental vaccine was 94.5-per-cent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, becoming the second U.S. drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.

Together with Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE-N) vaccine, which is also more than 90 per cent effective, and pending more safety data and regulatory review, the United States could have two vaccines authorized for emergency use in December with as many as 60 million doses of vaccine available this year.

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Next year, the U.S. government could have access to more than 1 billion doses just from the two vaccine makers, more than needed for the country’s 330 million residents.

The vaccines, both developed with new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), represent powerful tools to fight a pandemic that has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million. The news also comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are soaring, hitting new records in the United States and pushing some European countries back into lockdowns.

“We are going to have a vaccine that can stop COVID-19,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a telephone interview.

Moderna’s interim analysis was based on 95 infections among trial participants who received either a placebo or the vaccine. Of those, only five infections occurred in those who received the vaccine, which is administered in two shots 28 days apart.

“Having more than one source of an effective vaccine will increase the global supply and, with luck, help us all to get back to something like normal sometime in 2021,” said Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh.

Moderna expects to have enough safety data required for U.S. authorization in the next week or so and the company expects to file for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the coming weeks.

London-based Endeavour Mining Corp. (EDV-T) reversed course in afternoon trading and sat higher on the news it is buying Canadian gold company Teranga Gold Corp. (TGZ-T) in a friendly all-stock transaction worth about $2.4-billion.

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Endeavour is paying 0.470 of its shares for each Teranga share, a 5.1-per-cent premium to Friday’s close.

The deal is the latest in the rapidly consolidating gold industry that has seen a number of companies combine in low, or no premium transactions, at a time when the commodity is in a major upswing. In August, gold hit a new all-time high of US$2,050 an ounce, powered in large part by uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Endeavour takeover of Toronto-based Teranga is being pitched as a deal that will create a powerhouse in West Africa. Teranga has mines in Senegal and Burkina Faso. Endeavour has six mines in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. Together the two companies will produce over 1.5 million ounces of gold. Endeavour plans a secondary stock listing for the company on the London Stock Exchange.

- Niall McGee

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ-N) gained after it launched a new late-stage trial in Britain on Monday to test a two-dose regimen of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine among thousands of volunteers, as the U.S. drugmaker expands its trials by geography and type.

The UK arm of the study is aiming to recruit 6,000 participants among a total of 30,000 people globally, scientists leading the UK trial said. Volunteers will be recruited at 17 sites across the UK.

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They will be given a first dose of either a placebo or the experimental shot, currently called Ad26COV2, followed by a second dose or placebo 57 days later, said Saul Faust, a professor of pediatric immunology and infectious diseases who is co-leading the trial at University Hospital Southampton.

J&J signed an agreement for the two-dose global Phase III clinical trial with the British government in August, to run in parallel with a 60,000-person trial of a single shot of the experimental vaccine which was launched in September.

Simon Property Group Inc. (SPG-N) jumped after the biggest U.S. mall operator, said Sunday it will cut its purchase price for an 80-per-cent stake of rival Taubman Centers Inc. (TCO-N) by 18 per cent, as the coronavirus upends the retail industry sector.

The agreed discount comes as the two companies settled a legal dispute over the transaction, which Simon had previously threatened to walk away from, citing the hit to the industry from COVID-19.

Under the revised terms, Simon will pay US$2.65-billion for the 80-per-cent stake in the Taubman Realty Group (TRG), cutting its offer price to US$43 per share in cash from US$52.50 originally announced in February.

The Taubman family will sell about one-third of its ownership interest at the transaction price, leaving them with a 20-per-cent stake in TRG, the companies added.

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The companies said they also have settled their pending litigation in a Michigan court over the merger and the companies expect the deal to close later this year or early next year.

Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN-N) was up after it beat quarterly sales estimates on Monday, as the largest U.S. meat processor benefited from consumers buying more of its beef and pork products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. meat producers have seen sales volume recover after COVID-19-triggered temporary plants closures, boosted by strong demand from food retailers and an uptick in sales at several restaurant chains in recent weeks.

Tyson’s sales rose to US$11.46-billion from US$10.88-billion in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 3. Analysts on average had expected sales of US$11.01-billion, Refinitiv data showed.

Net income attributable to Tyson rose to US$692-million, or US$1.90 per share, from US$369-million, or US$1.01 per share, a year earlier.

Home Depot Inc. (HD-N) gained ground after it said on Monday it would buy industrial goods wholesaler HD Supply Holdings Inc. (HDS-Q) in a deal valued at about US$8-billion.

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The home improvement chain said it would offer US$56 per share in cash to HD Supply shareholders, a near 25-per-cent premium to the stock’s last close.

Home Depot’s smaller rival Lowe’s Cos Inc. (LOW-N) last week said it was not in talks to buy HD Supply, denying a previous media report.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC-N) rose with news it is set to acquire BBVA’s U.S. business for US$11.6-billion in cash in one of the biggest global bank deals this year, which sees yet another European lender retreat from the United States.

The sale will further consolidate the U.S. banking sector and prompted speculation BBVA could use the cash to buy up a rival bank in its domestic market.

This is the second-largest U.S. banking deal since the 2008 financial crisis and creates an American bank with nearly US$560-billion of assets and a presence in two dozen states.

The move underscores how a loosening of financial regulations and lowering of corporate taxes under President Donald Trump has emboldened regional lenders to pursue scale through dealmaking, as they compete with bigger players such as JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co.

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PNC and BBVA had been in talks about a deal for the last few weeks, and decided to press on after the U.S. elections because they believe the regulatory environment will not change with Democrat Joe Biden as president and the Republicans likely controlling the Senate, sources familiar with the matter said.

With files from staff and wires

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