Despite a choppy session, the major U.S. equity averages secured modest gains on Wednesday, the first advance so far in 2023. Concerns remained about Federal Reserve policy and the near-term future of the economy.
Cruise stocks were among the winners during the session. A move by Carnival Corp. (NYSE:CCL) to raise prices on certain add-ons gave a lift to the sector, including rivals Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH).
Elsewhere, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Melco Resorts & Entertainment (MLCO) added to recent gains on signs that a recent COVID outbreak in China may have peaked, raising the prospects for companies with significant exposure to Macau. With the advance, both stocks set 52-week highs.
China Geron (GERN) represented another standout gainer on the session, expanding its value by a third following the release of clinical data. The release of clinical data had the opposite impact on Vera Therapeutics (VERA), which lost nearly two-thirds of its value during the session.
Sector In Focus
CCL climbed almost 10% on reports that it intended to raise prices for on-board add-ons. Cruise Industry News reported that this would include rates for things like Wi-Fi and recommended onboard gratuities.
The Phase 3 study met its primary endpoint as well as the key secondary endpoint. The trial looked at the product for use in patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder.
Following the news, GERN surged to an intraday 52-week high of $3.84. The stock came off that peak later in the day but still closed at $3.19, an advance of 79 cents on the session.
With the latest rise, GERN has now climbed more than 170% over the past year.
The release of clinical data sent shares Vera Therapeutics (VERA) spiraling. The stock plunged nearly 65%.
The company revealed top-line data from a mid-stage trial of its atacicept product in patients with immunoglobulin A nephropathy. The Phase 2 study met its primary endpoint by the reduction in proteinuria seen in the data did not match some optimistic expectations.
In the study, the change in proteinuria, a condition marked by high levels of protein in your urine, was 33% for the 150 mg dose cohort. Prior to the results, Cowen’s Ritu Baral suggested that the best-case scenario would involve a reduction of at least 50%.
VERA finished the session at $6.46, a decline of $11.84 on the day. The stock also reached an intraday 52-week low of $6.21.
Notable New High
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Melco Resorts & Entertainment (MLCO) surged again on Wednesday, adding to a recent upswing, as investors bet on stocks closely tied to the Chinese gambling haven of Macau. With the gains, both stocks reached new 52-week highs.
Signs of a peak in the recent COVID resurgence in China gave a boost to Macau-related stocks. The South China Morning Post reported that recent data point to easing infection rates.
LVS rose 5% on the session, climbing $2.56 to close at $51.89. Shares also touched an intraday 52-week high of $52. This marked the fourth consecutive day of gains, as LVS has climbed 49% over the past six months.
As for MLCO, the stock jumped 9%, advancing $1.12 to finish at $13.10. In the process, shares established an intraday 52-week high of $13.39.
MLCO has climbed 37% for the past month and has jumped more than 120% over the past six months.
For more of the day’s biggest winners and losers, head over to Seeking Alpha’s On The Move section.