Back to Brussels, May Says No Support for Second Brexit Referendum
British Prime Minister Theresa May, who somehow is still the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom despite being defeated in almost every critical legislative vote surrounding Brexit which she was brought aboard to deliver, is going back to Brussels to renegotiate the Irish backstop, which pretty soon will spur a band or a chain of restaurants or at least a new brand of Irish whiskey, with an e. She also believes that there is not enough parliamentary support for a second referendum because there was no cross-party effort to try to get that amendment passed in Parliament, meaning there is not enough support for it as is. Let’s see what happens as March 29th gets closer though, and the MPs start to sweat more about a Hard Brexit with businesses threatening to evacuate the island as if it were Dunkirk. Or Chernobyl.
BP Is Rolling in the Oil Dough
British Petroleum, AKA BP, (NYSE:BP), unlike the British Prime Minister, is reveling in its success, having doubled profits year over year driven by US shale acquisitions and strong growth in oil and gas output. Debt grew however, and share buybacks slowed. What is impressive though is that BP’s advance happened in the face of drastically reduced oil prices, which means if they recover, oil stocks could soar. The big oil companies including Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) all beat expectations for earnings thanks to US shale production, which itself is partly responsible for the collapse of oil prices.
Iron Ore Prices Soar
Iron ore prices surged 14% last week and nobody knows why, so they’re all blaming it on a collapse of a Brazilian dam that killed 300 people and the Brazilian government’s order to the world’s largest iron ore, producer Vale (NYSE:VALE) to close 8 of its dams. But speculators admit that this isn’t enough to cause such an enormous surge. “Our fundamental view is there no reason for this incredible move, so is it just speculation, a frenzy about possible stimulus in China?,” said Saxo Bank’s head of FX Strategy John Hardy. “What should we do with it? I don’t know, but it should be noted.” Noted. This is the mirror case of BP, as oil prices have surged but Vale shares are down 22% since the collapse. Natural gas prices (NYSEARCA:UNG) have also been rather nutty lately, surging and collapsing twice since November, but now they’re back to normal. For now.
Merck and GlaxoSmithKline Partner Up On Two-Headed Cancer Antibody
A $4.23B deal has been cemented between Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Germany’s Merck (NYSE:MRK) on a two-headed antibody called M7824 that targets two pathways that are immune checkpoints. All profits will be split equally. M7824 is currently in Phase I trials for the treatment of solid tumors and is going up against Merck’s Keytruda in non small cell lung cancer, which is what the two companies have teamed up on. So Merck is essentially following the saying, if you can’t beat’em, join’em.
Pain Therapeutics Pained at FDA In Painful Statement on Math
Pain Therapeutics (NASDAQ:PTIE) is feeling the pain, and they don’t like the FDA’s math. The biotech has been trying to get a gel reformulation of oxycodone, the most prescribed opioid in the world and very addictive, approved by the FDA for years, and they say the agency doesn’t know basic math. “REMOXY remains an odyssey without a homecoming,” Chief Executive Remi Barbier said in the statement. “We had hoped for a fair, neutral and impartial review of the REMOXY data. Instead, we walked out of this meeting feeling a bit disoriented by FDA’s lack of transparency, clarity or helpfulness. It’s a rare occasion when two parties can’t agree on simple math. We can’t work with shambolic regulations. This is not how you win support for innovation…More generally, as the regulatory requirements for REMOXY have changed frequently and suddenly over time, we have experienced significant delays and have incurred unanticipated expenses related to the overall REMOXY development program.” Now that’s painful. Pain is down 12.5% at time of writing.