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This was supposed to be a year of blockbuster IPOs from flashy startups. Uber. Lyft. WeWork. Instead, shares of Uber and Lyft have floundered. It's an open question whether WeWork will move ahead with its public debut at all.

It's in this environment that Peloton, the buzzy indoor cycling startup, will offer stock to public investors for the first time on Thursday. Shares will begin trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "PTON."

Early signs are positive. The company priced its stock at $29 per share, at the upper end of its range. In offering 40 million shares, Peloton raised $1.16 billion.

That values the company at $8.1 billion, according to financial data firm PitchBook. That's nearly double its last valuation in the private market.

But risks remain. Investors have shown waning patience for companies that aren't able to control their costs. While Peloton saw a massive increase in revenue to $915 million in its most recent fiscal year, losses more than doubled, jumping to nearly $196 million from roughly $48 million.

Inevitably there have been comparisons between Peloton and SmileDirectClub, whose shares have dropped more than one third below their IPO price since the company went public earlier this month. Like Peloton, the provider of transparent braces is quickly growing its revenue, but its losses are piling up, too.

Those with faith in Peloton's story will point to its rabidly devoted customer base. It more than doubled its connected subscribers in a year, with more than 511,000 as of June 30.

That's a lot of people willing to shell out for at-home boutique exercise classes. Peloton's indoor bikes start at $2,245 and its treadmill starts at $4,295. Both require memberships that cost $39 a month and give riders and runners access to classes live and on-demand.

Vaping is catching up with Big Tobacco

The US vaping crisis has turned into a global headache for tobacco companies.

Imperial Brands warned Thursday that sales growth will be lower than expected in the year ending September 30, following a looming regulatory crackdown on vaping products in the United States. Earnings per share will be flat.

The British group, which sells vaping gear in the United States and Europe under the brand name Blu, said the US market for vaping products and e-cigarettes had "deteriorated considerably" because of uncertainty over how regulators would respond to a series of deaths linked to their use.

Shares plummeted more than 9% in early trading in London.

The scene, from my CNN Business colleague Charles Riley: "The crackdown on products that tobacco producers view as the future of the industry represents a rapid reversal. Until recently, vaping was marketed as a safer alternative to smoking. Regulators in some countries had signed on to that view."

Other fallout: Amid mounting uncertainty, tobacco giants Altria and Philip Morris on Wednesday ended discussions to reunite in a merger that could have been worth more than $200 billion. Meanwhile, vaping startup Juul replaced its CEO and said it has a new marketing strategy.

A surprise resignation from the ECB

Christine Lagarde will have her work cut out when she takes over from Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank on November 1. That's clear from the surprise resignation Wednesday of Sabine Lautenschläger, Germany's representative on the central bank's executive board.

The ECB did not give a reason for her early departure (her term would have run until 2022). But the move follows the central bank's recent decision to push interest rates further into negative territory and to restart its bond-buying program. Lautenschläger "has been the most vocal and often the only member of the executive board to publicly criticize the ECB's bond purchases," ING's chief German economist Carsten Brzeski points out.

One possible takeaway: At a time of unprecedented monetary policy, divisions between the hawks and the doves are only becoming more entrenched.

Up next

Conagra Brands and Accenture will report earnings before the US market open. Micron will follow after the close.

Also today:

  • US to release its final estimate of second quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • Pending US home sales for August arrive at 10 a.m. ET.

Coming tomorrow: We'll get a look at US personal income and durable goods data.

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