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Dow ends well off Friday's low, Nasdaq falls 1.8% and all 3 major stock-market indexes post weekly losses in wild week

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U.S. stock benchmarks closed lower Friday, but managed to finish off the day’s worst levels, as investors wrestled with weaker-than-expected November jobs report. The Labor Department report showed that a mere 210,000 new jobs were created in the U.S. in November, well below estimates from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal for a gain of 573,000 new jobs. However, analysts say the lackluster jobs gain isn’t likely to alter the Federal Reserve’s plan to accelerate the scaling back of its monthly bond purchases at policy makers’ next meeting in less than two weeks. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and other members of the central bank’s rate-setting committee have suggested that a faster tapering of asset purchases could be warranted to combat rising inflation pressures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.17%

closed down 0.2% on Friday to reach 34,580, but the index had hit an intraday low at 34,264.57. For the week, the index closed down 0.9% to mark the fourth straight weekly decline. The S&P 500 index
SPX,
-0.84%

closed the day down 0.8% at 4,538 but had touched an intraday nadir at 4,495.10, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-1.92%

ended down 1.9% at 15,085. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 1.2%, for its second straight weekly drop, while the Nasdaq Composite booked a 2.6% weekly skid.

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Wall Street's 'fear index' shoots to highest level since January as S&P 500 skids lower, Nasdaq sinks toward correction

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A measure of implied volatility on Wall Street on Friday touched the highest level since late January as the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.57%

headed toward its second consecutive weekly loss. The CBOE Volatility Index
VIX,
+11.38%

jumped by about 24% Friday, trading around 34.6, which would mark the highest level for the index since Jan. 27, according to FactSet data. The index, also known as the VIX, for its ticker symbol, has become well known as Wall Street’s “fear index,” since it was created in the early 1990s. The VIX itself, which uses S&P 500 options to measure trader expectations for volatility over the coming 30-day period, tends to rise as stocks fall and is often therefore referred to as a guide to the level of investor fear. It had been trading below its historic average of around 19.5 until concerns about the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 emerged last week. This Friday, the VIX was headed higher in the culimination of a weeklong selloff in equities as investors reassessed a weaker-than-expected November jobs report as unlikely to stay the hand of a Federal Reserve that seems intent on tamping down inflation. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-2.72%
,
off 2.7%, was seeing the most significant selling pressure, among the main three stock benchmarks, bringing the index down more than 6% from its Nov. 19 record peak.

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The Dow has shed over 2,000 points over past month as blue-chip, stock-market index heads for 4th weekly tumble

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average has shed about 2,000 points since the middle of November to this Friday, as bullish momentum unwinds. At last check, the Dow
DJIA,
-0.78%

was down 360 points Friday afternoon, bringing the weekly drop to nearly 630 points, or 1.8%, and marking the fourth consecutive weekly decline for the benchmark of 30 blue-chip stocks, if the decline holds. From the weekly period started Nov. 12 to Dec. 3, the index has lost about 2,054 points. U.S. stock benchmarks were down Friday, as investors reassessed weaker-than-expected November jobs report as unlikely to stay the hand of a Federal Reserve that seems intent on tamping down inflation. Worries about the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and fears about the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy plans, was helping to undercut bullish momentum on Wall Street.

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Eli Lilly's COVID-19 treatment now authorized high-risk patients 'of any age'

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Eli Lilly & Co.
lly
said Friday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expanded the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its bamlanivimab and etesevimab, taken together, to treat certain high-risk patients that are under the age of 12, even newborns. “With the FDA’s decision to allow use of bamlanivimab with etesevimab in children and infants, Lilly can now offer treatment and prevention options to high-risk individuals of any age,” said Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific and medical officer. Lilly said bamlanivimab and etesevimab taken together retains neutralization activity against the delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and the drug maker is working to understand neutralization activity on the omicron variant. Lilly’s stock, which fell 1.9% in afternoon trading Friday, has rallied 44.0% year to date, while the S&P 500
spx
has gained 19.7%.

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Lilly's COVID-19 antibody treatment authorized for young children and infants

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Shares of Eli Lilly & Co.
LLY,
-1.49%

were down 1.6% in trading on Friday after the company said the Food and Drug Administration has extended the emergency authorization for its COVID-19 antibody therapy to include children younger than 12 years old. This is the first authorization for a monoclonal antibody treatment for infants and children. Lilly said the therapy can now be used in high-risk children as a treatment or for post-exposure prophylaxis. The company also said that more than 700,000 patients have been treated with bamlanivimab or a combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab. Lilly’s stock is up 44.5% so far this year, while the broader S&P 500
SPX,
-1.57%

has gained 21.6%.

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U.S. oil futures post a sixth consecutive weekly decline

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U.S. oil futures gave up early Friday gains to settle with a loss, suffering a sixth weekly decline in a row. While the decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies on Thursday to “formally keep their meeting ‘in session’ means that they are watching developments closely and could reconvene at any time to begin to renegotiate the deal, this just speaks to the current uncertainty in the market when it comes to the ultimate impact the omicron variant will have on demand,” said Troy Vincent, senior market analyst at DTN. “It’s simply too early to tell.” January West Texas Intermediate crude
CLF22,
-0.65%

fell 24 cents, or 0.4%, to settle at $66.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after trading as high as $69.22. For the week, prices based on the front-month contract, lost 2.8%, according to FactSet data.

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Merck to supply Government of Canada with up to 1 million courses molnupiravir, its COVID-19 pill

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Merck & Co. Inc.
MRK,
-0.90%

said Friday that it has entered into an agreement to supply the Government of Canada with up to one million patient courses of its COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, which is being developed in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Earlier this week, an advisory panel recommended that the drug maker’s oral antiviral treatment of COVID-19 be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Under terms of the supply agreement, Merck will supply 500,000 patient courses of molnupiravir in 2022, and has granted options for up to 500,000 more courses, pending approval by Health Canada. Merck’s stock fell 0.8% in afternoon trading. It has lost 5.1% over the past three months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.72%
,
of which Merck is a component, has slipped 2.7%.

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Citi upgrades Morgan Stanley to buy from neutral

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Citi Research analyst Keith Horowitz on Friday upgraded shares of Morgan Stanley
MS,
-1.41%

to buy from neutral, and hiked the firm’s price target to $115 a share from $105 a share. Horowitz said the investment bank has “successfully improved returns far beyond expectations” with strength in its wealth management unit. “If there is one large cap bank that can move into a growth premium, we believe it is MS given the mousetrap they have built to capture wealth assets is very sound strategically and with their track record…we believe there is a strong likelihood they will execute on this opportunity,” Citi said. “We don’t think it’s a stretch that the market will reward them with a growth multiple over time driving the multiple higher.” Shares of Morgan Stanley are up 42.9% in 2021, compared to a rise of 20.1% by the S&P 500.

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Biden signs bill to avert government shutdown as Washington turns to debt limit, defense bill

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President Joe Biden on Friday signed a bill that will keep the federal government running through Feb. 18, resolving the threat of a weekend shutdown. Washington is staring down other must-pass items, however, including raising the debt limit and an annual defense bill. Top Democrats are also aiming to pass Biden’s massive social-spending and climate bill in the Senate before Christmas, though that timeline could slip.

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Smith & Wesson's stock plunges toward biggest 1-day selloff since March 2020

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Shares of Smith & Wesson Brands Inc.
SWBI,
-29.35%

plummeted 29.9% in afternoon trading Friday, putting them on track for their biggest one-day selloff since March 2020. The gun maker reported after Thursday’s closing bell fiscal second-quarter profit and revenue that missed expectations, demand levels declined from pandemic-related highs, and the stock ended Thursday’s after-hours session with a decline of about 15%. The stock fell even further after Friday’s open, after the parents who bought the gun used by their son to kill four students at Michigan school were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The stock, which was on track for the lowest close since March 5, has now plunged 54.7% since closing at a record $35.40 on July 1. Shares of fellow firearms maker Strum Ruger & Co.
RGR,
-10.47%

tumbled 11.1% toward the lowest close since Jan. 29, and have now lost 29.3% since closing at a record $89.98 on June 30. Year to date, Smith & Wesson shares have lost 9.6% and Sturm Ruger’s stock has slipped 2.3%, while the S&P 500
SPX,
-1.43%

has gained 20.1%.