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Live news updates: Anthony Fauci tests positive for Covid-19

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THG pursuers set to give up their chase of ecommerce group

© REUTERS

Two investment firms are set to abandon their pursuit of ecommerce retailer THG, presenting a fresh setback for the company’s investors.

The Manchester-based group said last month that Belerion Capital and King Street Capital Management had made an “unsolicited, highly preliminary and indicative non-binding proposal” of 170p a share, or around £2bn.

The overture was rejected as inadequate but making it public set the clock ticking on a “put up or shut up” deadline of June 16 under UK takeover rules.

A person familiar with the approach said a formal statement confirming withdrawal was likely on Thursday. The parties may not then make a further approach for six months, unless another party tables a bid.

Belerion is already a shareholder in the group and Iain McDonald, its chief investment officer, has been a non-executive director since 2010. Belerion and King Street both declined to comment, as did THG.

Their intention to abandon their pursuit was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Read more about the aborted THG takeover bid here.

FDA advisory panel backs Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5

US government advisers have recommended administering Covid-19 vaccines to babies and toddlers, paving the way for the nationwide roll-out of jabs from as early as next week.

Scientists on a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Wednesday voted unanimously in favour of the “child-sized” shots developed by Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer for about 20mn children in the last age group that lacks access to Covid jabs.

The Biden administration is gearing up to begin vaccinations for young children next week and is making 10mn doses available for distribution, pending a final recommendation in favour by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected later this week.

If US regulators greenlight the jabs, it would mark the first time a big western nation has extended the Covid vaccine roll-out to children between the ages of six months and five years. So far only China and a handful of other countries have offered Covid shots to this age group using alternatives to Moderna and Pfizer.

Moderna’s shot is about a quarter of the size of an adult dose and is targeted at children under six years in a two-dose regimen. Meanwhile, the Pfizer vaccine is about a tenth of the size of an adult dose and aimed at children under five years in a three-dose regimen.

Both were deemed safe and effective, according to FDA briefing documents prepared for the advisory panel.

Read more about the FDA advisory panel’s decision here.

US stocks close higher after Federal Reserve raises interest rates

US stocks and government bond prices rebounded after five consecutive days of declines on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced its largest interest rate rise in almost 30 years in an attempt to combat stubbornly high inflation.

The US central bank said it would lift the federal funds rate 0.75 percentage points from its level of between 0.75 per cent and 1 per cent. The increase was the first move of such magnitude since 1994.

Line chart of Performance on June 15, 2022 (%) showing US stocks rally as Powell says jumbo rate rises will not be common

Stocks whipsawed throughout the afternoon but settled higher as investors focused on Fed chair Jay Powell’s assertion that such large rate rises would not become common.

The S&P 500 index swung between a 0.4 per cent loss and a 2.7 per cent gain before closing 1.5 per cent higher for the day, slightly ahead of where it was trading before the Fed’s announcement. The tech-dominated Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.5 per cent.

Stock and bond markets had sold off sharply since the release of unexpectedly high inflation figures last week, which had raised the prospect of the Fed’s more aggressive approach. The previous five sessions had marked the S&P’s worst five-day run since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Powell said he expected the central bank to consider a further 0.5 per cent or 0.75 per cent increase at its next policy meeting in July, at which point interest rates would be close to “more normal” levels that do not stimulate economic activity.

Read more about the day’s market moves here.

Anthony Fauci tests positive for Covid-19

Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to US president Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has tested positive for Covid-19.

Fauci, who has been vaccinated and boosted twice, tested positive on a rapid antigen test on Wednesday and is currently experiencing mild symptoms, the institute said in a statement.

Fauci, 81, has led the US response since the start of the pandemic. He has advocated for a cautious approach to containing the virus and often disagreed with former president Donald Trump when he minimised the risks of the virus.

“Dr Fauci will isolate and continue to work from his home,” the NIAID said. “Dr Fauci will follow the Covid-19 guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical advice from his physician and return to the [National Institutes of Health] when he tests negative.”

The NIAID added that Biden and senior officials have not been in close contact with Fauci.

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