1. U.S. Stocks Climbed Up After Powell’s Reassurance

The S&P 500 Index erased a drop to end the day higher after reassuring comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on inflation and the outlook for growth spurred traders to buy the dip. The benchmark stock gauge closed 0.1% higher after declining as much as 1.8% amid a rout in technology shares on concern the high-flying stocks had become overvalued. The Nasdaq 100 ended just slightly lower, mostly erasing a loss that reached 3.5% after Powell signalled the Federal Reserve was nowhere close to pulling back on its support for the economy. Airlines, lodging companies and cyclical shares set to benefit from the end of pandemic lockdowns outperformed.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index fell 0.2% as of 8:54 a.m. New York time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.1%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 1.8%.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell 1.1%.

2. J&J Single-Shot Vaccine Found Effective Before FDA Review

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, U.S. regulators said, a key milestone on the path toward giving Americans access to the first such shot to work in a single dose. The vaccine was 72% effective in a U.S. clinical trial, Food and Drug Administration staff wrote in a document summarizing the company’s trial data, confirming findings J&J released earlier this month. There were no Covid-related deaths in the vaccinated group, the staff wrote. The analysis supported a favourable safety profile with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude the issuance of a EUA.

3. More Than 150 Executives Back $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan

Senior executives from more than 150 companies are voicing support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package in a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass coronavirus relief. The letter is signed by leaders across industries, including David Solomon, chairman and chief executive officer at Goldman Sachs; Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone; Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google; and John Stankey the CEO of AT&T. “We write to urge immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the executives wrote in the letter, first reported by CNN. “Congress should act swiftly and on a bipartisan basis to authorize a stimulus and relief package along the lines of the Biden-Harris administration’s proposed American Rescue Plan.”

4. Chinese Ride-Sharing Giant Didi Plans Entry Into Europe

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. plans to make its debut in Western Europe, people familiar with the matter said, as the company seeks new growth markets ahead of a long-awaited initial public offering. Beijing-based Didi is considering rolling out ride-sharing services in markets that could include the U.K, France and Germany by the first half of this year. The company has already set up a team dedicated to the European market and is hiring locally. Shares in rival Uber slumped 2.7% in premarket trading Wednesday, while Lyft slipped 0.7%. Didi is turning to new arenas as its momentum starts to slow in China, where it has a dominant market share after ousting Uber in 2016.

5. Hong Kong Shocks Traders with Stamp-Duty Hike

The stamp-duty increase for the first time since 1993 contributed to a selloff in Hong Kong’s $7.6 trillion market and sent shares of the city’s exchange operator down the most in five years, shows that even one of the world’s most capitalist-friendly governments is under growing pressure to target financiers and wealthy investors as it tries to address worsening inequality. In the U.S., a growing cohort of Democrats including Sanders have pushed for a financial transaction tax to the dismay of Wall Street. Both stock markets have boomed over the past year even as the economies tanked and unemployment rates soared.

6. France Contemplates ‘Targeted Measures’ To Avoid Lockdown

France is reviewing local coronavirus hot spots on a case-by-case basis and has decided to implement “targeted measures” to prevent the spread of new and more virulent variants. The situation is worrying in about 10 areas,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said during a press briefing on Wednesday. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is seeking to avoid a third full lockdown, which would crush the economy and could prove politically costly some 14 months before presidential elections. The country is already implementing a nationwide curfew that runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but amid a sluggish vaccine roll out officials have warned that isn’t enough.

7. GS-Backed ReNew Power Agrees To Merge With RMG-II SPAC

ReNew Power, India’s biggest renewable power producer, has agreed to merge with blank-check company RMG Acquisition Corp. II. The deal will give Goldman Sachs Group Inc.-backed ReNew an enterprise value of $8 billion and will close in the second quarter. An $855 million private placement to support the transaction is being raised from investors including serial dealmaker Chamath Palihapitiya, TT International Asset Management, a fund managed by BNP Paribas SA, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Inc. and Sylebra Capital. The merger will extend a wave of clean-tech SPAC deals in the U.S. to include India’s growing renewables market. India’s electricity demand is surging as the country pushes to slash emissions and improve air quality.

8. Volvo and Geely Call Off Merger, Agree to More Collaboration

China’s Geely and its Swedish affiliate Volvo will collaborate more closely on electric and self-driving vehicles while putting off earlier plans to merge. The manufacturers will preserve their separate corporate structures while cooperating more closely on powertrains, electrification and autonomous-driving technology. While they’ll no longer pursue a combination as announced in February of last year, new listings could be on the table. “The deeper collaboration will enable existing stakeholders and potential new investors in Volvo Cars and Geely Auto to value their respective standalone strategies, performance, financial exposure and returns,” the companies said Wednesday. “We will also have the opportunity to explore capital market options.”

9. Credit Suisse, UBS Moving Bankers to China From Hong Kong

Credit Suisse Group and UBS Group are relocating a number of bankers to mainland China from Hong Kong to better compete for deals after the world’s fastest-growing major economy relaxed curbs on foreign financial firms. Having bankers in Hong Kong, long a bridge between the West and China, is becoming less crucial as the mainland market opens, while Beijing’s tightening political grip has dimmed the city’s appeal. The moves are also in part prompted by concerns over continued restrictions on travel to and from Hong Kong, which is making it hard to do deals on the mainland. Competition is heating up in China after the nation last year allowed foreign firms to fully own their onshore securities businesses. Credit Suisse and UBS, as well as U.S. rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., are boosting their presence.

10. 91-Year-Old Suzuki Chairman to Step Down After Longest Reign in Auto Industry

Suzuki’s 91-year-old chairman Osamu Suzuki is stepping down after leading an automaker for longer than anyone else in the industry. Suzuki, who served as the Japanese carmaker’s chief executive for 22 years and then as chairman for another two decades, will step down from his current role following a shareholders meeting in June. He will remain as a senior adviser. With almost half a century at the helm, Suzuki is widely credited with turning the carmaker into what it is today: one of the largest small-vehicle manufacturers in the world. Instead of taking Japan’s biggest auto giants like Toyota head-on, Suzuki worked to grow the company by finding new markets around the world for its compact automobiles, building a dominant share in India during his first of two terms as president from 1978 to 2000.

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