New cases of Covid-19 are climbing fast in the U.S., yet in the U.K., where the highly contagious Delta variant struck first, the numbers have dropped sharply from their late-July peak.
The U.K. was averaging 47,000 cases a day on July 21, according to data kept by the New York Times, but is now down to 28,000 a day, after cases began ticking back up slightly as of the beginning of August. The U.S., meanwhile, is now averaging 124,000 new cases a day, up 86% over the past 14 days. Deaths are up 75% over the same period.
What’s next? RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams expects cases in the U.S. to continue to climb, peaking at up to 300,000 new cases a day. They will begin to fall just before Labor Day, which is in about four weeks, he predicts. Raymond James analyst Chris Meekins is somewhat more upbeat: “I may regret these words, but based on our analysis, I believe cases in the U.S. of the Delta variant are peaking,” Meekins writes.
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner and current Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that he thinks this wave could be the last, at least for now. “I don’t think Covid is going to be epidemic all through the fall and winter,” Gottlieb said. “We’re going to reach some level of populationwide exposure to this virus, either through vaccination or through prior infection, that it’s going to stop circulating at this level.”
Whether or not that is the case, the immediate future looks challenging. “Hospitalizations and deaths are climbing nationwide,” Meekins writes.
Hot and Hotter Inflation
Stock indexes edged higher, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average notching records. Inflation data were the main talking point: July consumer prices rose at a slower pace, bolstering the Federal Reserve’s case for “transitory” increases. The July producer price index, however, blew past estimates, with a whopping 7.8% year-over-year rise. Price increases were especially acute in reopening-sensitive areas, but were widespread across the index. That will keep the temporary-versus-lasting inflation arguments going. The Dow closed the week up 0.9%, at 35,515.18; the S&P 500 added 0.7%, to 4468.00; and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%, to 14,822.90.
Disney Threads the Needle
Walt Disney’s latest quarterly results checked the major boxes investors had been hoping for: A postpandemic rebound is under way at legacy businesses, while streaming continues to grow despite competition from a reopening economy. Disney’s theme parks and consumer-merchandise segment broke even for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Advertisers and the return of sports events boosted TV revenue. And Disney+—the cornerstone of Disney’s streaming push—added more than 12 million subscribers in the quarter, well ahead of forecasts.
Shovels to the Ready
The U.S. Senate passed a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package in a 69-30 vote. The bipartisan bill includes funding for such traditional infrastructure projects as roads and bridges, public transit, water, and power. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. Senate Democrats separately approved a $3.5 trillion budget proposal focused on “human infrastructure,” including many of President Joe Biden’s priorities: Medicare expansion, child-care funding, free community college, public-housing projects, and climate-related measures. It would also lift taxes on corporations and high-earning individuals.
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Annals of Deal Making
Canadian Pacific Railway made a second bid for Kansas City Southern, worth around $300 a share in cash and stock. That’s below a $325-a-share offer from rival Canadian National Railway, but it could stand a better chance with antitrust regulators…Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Holdings acquired a 7.1% stake in Universal Music Group from Vivendi for about $2.8 billion in cash, with an option to buy another 2.9% by next month… Chesapeake Energy is buying gas producer Vine Energy in a zero-premium deal valued at $2.2 billion, using mostly stock…German sportswear giant Adidas agreed to sell its Reebok brand to Authentic Brands Group for $2.5 billion… Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. will buy Willis Re, the reinsurance business of Willis Towers Watson, for $3.3 billion upfront and another $750 million by 2025. Willis Towers and rival Aon scuttled plans to merge last month amid opposition from the Justice Department.
Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at email@example.com