Yesterday's pessimism about the economy suddenly reversed Friday in the wake of a strong jobs report and comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell that the Fed will be flexible on interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) recovered losses from Thurday's ugly session and then some.
Today's stock market
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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.
All sectors were up today, with technology leading the way. The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT: XLK) jumped 4.4%. Biotech shares were particularly strong, with the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEMKT: XBI) closing up 5.4%.
As for individual stocks, Square (NYSE: SQ) hired a new CFO, and Crispr Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ: CRSP) got a boost for its lead drug program.
Image source: Getty Images.
Square names new CFO
Shares of financial technology specialist Square soared 11% after the company announced it has hired Amrita Ahuja away from Activision Blizzard to fill the chief financial officer role that opened up when former CFO Sarah Friar left in October. Ahuja had been promoted to CFO of Activision's Blizzard Entertainment division last spring after having served as the company's senior vice president of investor relations.
CEO Jack Dorsey touted Ahuja's experience, saying, "Amrita brings the ability to consider and balance opportunities across our entire business, and she will help strengthen our discipline as we invest, build, and scale." Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette also praised the choice in a note today.
FDA expedites review of gene-editing therapy
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the Fast Track designation to Crispr Therapeutics' lead drug candidate, and shares of the gene-editing company jumped 8%. The FDA's action on CTX001, the product of a collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, clears the way for a more rapid review of the therapy in treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD).
CTX001 involves removing a patient's stem cells, editing their DNA using CRISPR/Cas9 technology to enable them to produce a form of hemoglobin that reduces SCD symptoms, and reintroducing them into the patient. The FDA had put a hold on clinical studies of the therapy in May 2018, but lifted it in October.
Crispr Therapeutics is currently enrolling a phase 1/2 trial of CTX001 in the U.S. for SCD and another in Europe for beta thalassemia. The FDA Fast Track designation, granted to drugs for serious illnesses with unmet medical needs, will enable more frequent communication with the agency with the goal of expediting the approval process.
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Jim Crumly owns shares of ATVI, Square, and VRTX. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends ATVI and Square. The Motley Fool owns shares of CRISPR Therapeutics and has the following options: short January 2019 $80 calls on Square. The Motley Fool recommends VRTX. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.