The stock market came into Friday morning's session under pressure as investors once again sought to assess economic data in light of their desire to see the Federal Reserve reduce interest rates to be more accommodative in its monetary policy. Futures markets indicated a likely decline of about 40 points for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI). Similarly, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) was poised for a drop of about 9 points based on premarket futures activity, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) indicated a slump of roughly 65 points.
Despite the downward move in stock futures, there was a lot of enthusiasm on Wall Street to start the day. Pet products specialist Chewy (NYSE: CHWY) hopes to continue the string of successful initial public offerings among up-and-coming innovative businesses. At the same time, ArQule (NASDAQ: ARQL) announced promising news in the fight against cancer, with early study results that have many looking for future success from the biopharmaceutical company.
Barking up business
Shares of Chewy were set to open for trading for the first time today, with its shares to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The pet products company priced its initial public offering at $22 per share, above the upper end of its most recent expected range of $19 to $21 per share.
Chewy has gotten a lot of interest from investors because of the rise in demand for pet-related products. Consumers love their pets and are willing to spend money on them, and Chewy has done a good job of satisfying demand with premium products that resonate well with pet lovers. That's not surprising, given that the company's majority shareholder is privately held longtime pet retail operator PetSmart.
Some naysayers have noted that Chewy's business model bears a disturbing resemblance to the ill-fated Pets.com, which survives 20 years later as one of the most recognizable symbols of the bubble in internet stocks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The fact that Chewy's isn't yet making a profit feeds into that narrative.
However, consumer behavior has changed dramatically over those two decades. The rise of e-commerce has made pet owners not only receptive but insistent on having the convenience of pet products delivered directly to their homes, and although the appeal of visiting a brick-and-mortar location that caters to their pets hasn't disappeared completely, Chewy offers the valuable service of getting sometimes bulky items directly to homes. With the pet product retailer set to raise more than $1 billion in its IPO, pet owners can expect to see a lot more of the company in the future.
ArQule makes progress
Meanwhile, shares of ArQule soared 47% in premarket trading as investors reacted favorably to the biopharma's release of study data. The clinical proof-of-concept data from ArQule's phase 1 study of its ARQ 531 candidate treatment for patients with relapsed/refractory hematologic malignancies showed promising results.
ARQ 531 demonstrated substantial anti-tumor activity in the study, with four out of six patients suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia seeing partial responses to the treatment. In addition, the study revealed a partial response in its first patient suffering from the disease Richter's Transformation. ArQule also includes cohorts of patients with small lymphocytic leukemia, Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, and other B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
In addition, ArQule said that its candidate cancer treatment has shown a favorable safety profile. ARQ 531 was well tolerated among the patients in the study in doses up to 65 milligrams.
ARQ 531 is just one of several promising prospects in ArQule's pipeline, and investors have gotten increasingly excited about the company's potential over the course of this year. If ARQ 531 keeps generating good results in this and future studies, then it could carry the stock still higher.
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