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Infographic – Biotech Index Falls in Summer

Nasdaq Biotech Index

Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, 1 Jan. to 30 Aug. 2019. Click on image for full-size view (Nasdaq)

31 Aug. 2019. In early January of this year, we checked into the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, or NBI, as an indicator of the industry’s overall health. On the previous day back then (4 Jan.), the index of 223 biotech companies trading on the Nasdaq jumped 3.4 percent in one trading session, mirroring an increase in the technology-heavy Nasdaq overall of more than 4 percent.

It’s time to check in again on the NBI, on its ups and downs since the start of 2019, our infographic for this weekend. The numbers show the index is up 5.7 percent since the beginning of the year. Since 1 July, however, NBI is down by about the same rate, 5.6 percent. For comparison, the Nasdaq Composite Index is up 19.5 percent for the year, but down 1.6 percent since 1 July.

As seen in our day-to-day reporting, the biotechnology industry covers a range of companies developing treatments and diagnostics for human and animal health, as well as agricultural applications. Industry analysts at IBISWorld note that the U.S. biotech industry represents nearly 3,000 companies employing some 304,000 workers, with revenues of $112 billion so far in 2019, and an annual growth rate in the past five years of 1.7 percent.

Nonetheless, biotechnology and other sectors based on scientific discovery are not immune from larger economic and geopolitical forces. In the trade war between the U.S. and China, protection of intellectual property — coin of the realm in science-based enterprises — is a major issue. Also, a no-deal Brexit could severely affect pharmaceutical companies in the U.K. and Europe, many of whom license discoveries from biotechnology companies. And Trump administration immigration policies discouraging international university students could choke off a large source of talent for academic and industry labs in the U.S.

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