Stocks Mixed As Vaccine Euphoria Abates Tech Selling Continues

Stocks were mixed Tuesday as investors reined in an initial wave of optimism over a promising vaccine candidate. Tech shares remained under pressure, and the Nasdaq dipped further after Monday’s losses.

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News that a Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in patients in its clinical trial helped fuel a market rally earlier on Monday. During the regular session, the S&P 500 and Dow rocketed to intraday records, with the latter index adding as many as 1,610 points, or 5.7% at session highs. However, both indices pared some gains into market close.

“I think the big surprise here was the efficacy. I think you had polled investors before this, the efficacy range would have been 50-75% as sort of a wide range,” Stuart Kaiser, UBS Head of Equity Derivatives Research, told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “And if this number is truly 90% or above, I think that is what the market is responding so positively to.”

More positive news from companies working on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics came out during the overnight session. Eli Lilly (LLY) said its antibody therapy for treating mild to moderate COVID-19 in high-risk patients had received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Shares of the drug-maker rose more than 3% in early trading.

Shares of cruise lines, airlines and lodging companies – which each stand to benefit from the increase in consumer confidence that an effective vaccine might confer – gave back some gains after surging during the regular session.

Many of the tech stocks that had led the market higher earlier this year did not participate in Monday’s rally, however, and continued to sell off Tuesday morning. Investors unloaded positions in software names that had climbed throughout much of 2020, as traders treated them as safer bets while the pandemic threatened to keep people mostly at home. Other safe haven assets, including gold, silver and U.S. Treasuries, steadied Tuesday morning after tumbling during Monday’s session.

A successful vaccine has widely been viewed by investors, company executives and politicians as the key component of a broad-based economic reopening and sustained recovery. About 27 million workers, or around 22% of the U.S. workforce, are in occupations that require close physical proximity, Torsten Slok, chief economist for Apollo Global Management, pointed out in a note, with many of these workers having been put out of work by the fall-out from the pandemic and social distancing orders.

Still, widespread distribution of a vaccine – from either Pfizer or one of the other companies in late-stage trials including Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Moderna (MRNA) – is not likely to take place for months, even after approval is granted. Some analysts cautioned against extrapolating too far beyond Monday’s knee-jerk jump higher in markets as the race for a vaccine, and the ongoing uncertainty over whether Congress might deliver additional fiscal stimulus in the meantime, continue to play out.

“The vaccine news is really a 2021 story and we still have the worst to deal with COVID, as cases run at new highs. So the vaccine is not an immediate fix,” Carter Henderson, Fort Pitt Capital Portfolio Specialist, told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “That’s why we believe stimulus is still on the table. So if we get news about stimulus early in next year coupled with vaccine news, we think the market could have a true melt-up.”

4:03 p.m. ET: Stocks mixed as vaccine cheer abates and tech selloff continues. Dow adds 262 points, or 0.9% while Nasdaq drops 1.4%

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -5.01 (-0.14%) to 3,545.49
  • Dow (^DJI): +262.23 (+0.90%) to 29,420.20
  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -159.93 (-1.37%) to 11,553.86
  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.08 (+2.68%) to $41.37 a barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): +$18.30 (+0.99%) to $1,872.70 per ounce
  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.4 bps to yield 0.9720%

1:31 p.m. ET: JPMorgan sees S&P 500 hitting 4,000 ‘by early next year’ and to 4,500 by year-end 2021

In a new note, JPMorgan strategists said they see the S&P 500 rising to 4,000 by early 2021, aided by an improving economic backdrop as key risks from the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty over the political landscape abate. Hitting 4,000 implies additional upside of nearly 13% from Monday’s closing levels.

“The equity market is facing one of the best backdrops for sustained gains in years. After a prolonged period of elevated risks (global trade war, COVID-19 pandemic, US election uncertainty, etc.), the outlook is significantly clearing up, especially with news of a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine,” they said. “We expected an imminent vaccine outcome and a rotation out of COVID-19 beneficiaries/momentum and into epicenter/value stocks.”

“We view a confirmed Biden victory with a likely legislative gridlock as a goldilocks outcome for equities, a ‘market nirvana’ scenario,” they added.

With this in mind, the strategists say they see the S&P 500 topping their previous price target of 3,600 before year-end and hitting 4,000 “by early next year, with a good potential for the market to move even higher (~4,500) by the end of next year.”

1:10 p.m. ET: Apple unveils new in-house M1 chip for Macs

Apple (AAPL) on Tuesday announced its own in-house silicon chip for its Mac computers, making good on its promise in June to unveil new Apple-made chip technology for the Mac by the end of the year.

Johny Srouji, Apple senior vice president of hardware technology, said the new chip designed specifically for the Mac will deliver a “giant leap in performance” relative to existing technology. The chip, called M1, will be produced using the 5-nanometer process and help improve performance and power efficiency for the Mac.

In developing its own chips, Apple will be transitioning away from Intel’s processors for the Mac, which it had used for the past 15 years. Apple executives said Tuesday that they will be developing a “family of chips” and will be transitioning the Mac to the new line over the coming years, with M1 comprising the first step in this process.

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Apple shares rose about 0.5% with the live-streamed event under way.

12:41 p.m. ET: Dow holds higher while tech selling leads S&P 500, Nasdaq lower

The three major indices remained mixed during Tuesday’s afternoon session, with declines across many of the heavily weighted tech stocks pulling both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq into the red.

The information technology, consumer discretionary and communication services sectors led the declines in the S&P 500, while consumer staples, industrials and energy stocks outperformed. The Dow rose more than 200 points, bucking the downward trend of the other two indices as shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance jumped 8.5%, and Boeing rose 6.8%.

10:02 a.m. ET: Job openings little changed in September from August, though government openings fall as Census worker demand drops: BLS

Job openings in the U.S. totaled 6.436 million as of the end of September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday. This was little changed from the 6.352 million reported at the end of August, and slightly below the 6.5 million openings for September that consensus economists had predicted, according to Bloomberg data.

The number of job openings decreased in the federal government by 20,000, and the number of hires fell by 256,000 primarily due to a drop in demand for temporary 2020 Census workers, the BLS added. Hires also fell in retail trade and educational services, while rising in accommodation and food services, wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing industries.

9:32 a.m. ET: S&P 500, Nasdaq fall while Dow adds to Monday’s gains

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:32 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -4.67 points (-0.13%) to 3,545.83
  • Dow (^DJI): +151.57 points (+0.52%) to 29,309.54
  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -63.90 points (-0.52%) to 11,654.1
  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.62 (+1.54%) to $40.91 a barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): +$24.20 (+1.31%) to $1,878.60 per ounce
  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.8 bps to yield 0.966%

7:24 a.m. ET: Stocks point to mixed open, Dow futures add 200+ points while tech shares slide

Here were the main moves in markets as of 7:24 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,540.25, down 3.75 points or 0.11%
  • Dow futures (YM=F): 28,278.00, up 230 points or 0.79%
  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,635.75, down 184.75 points or 1.56%
  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.25 (+0.62%) to $40.54 a barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): +$22.30 (+1.2%) to $1,876.70 per ounce
  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.1 bps to yield 0.937%

7:12 a.m. ET Tuesday: EU files antitrust complaint against Amazon, opens a second probe over the e-commerce platform

The European Union on Tuesday said it issued a statement of objections against Amazon over practices it has implemented while serving as both a marketplace platform and seller, which the EU said the company has used to make “strategic business decisions to the detriment of the other marketplace sellers.” Amazon shares fell 2% in early trading.

“The Commission’s preliminary view, outlined in its Statement of Objections, is that the use of non-public marketplace seller data allows Amazon to avoid the normal risks of retail competition and to leverage its dominance in the market for the provision of marketplace services in France and Germany – the biggest markets for Amazon in the EU,” the EU said in a statement. “If confirmed, this would infringe Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position.”

The statement of objections does not mark the end or the outcome of an investigation or suggest any fines or changes to Amazon’s business model that the EU might eventually demand. It does, however, raise the specter of further action against the company.

The EU also announced it opened a second antitrust investigation over whether Amazon’s business practices “might artificially favor its own retail offers and offers of marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services (the so-called ‘fulfillment by Amazon or FBA sellers’).”

6:01 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures open higher amid lingering vaccine optimism

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:01 p.m. ET Monday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,556.00, up 12 points or 0.34%
  • Dow futures (YM=F): 28,153.00, up 105 points or 0.36%
  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,882.25, up 61.75 points or 0.52%

By: Emily McCormick

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With volatility already falling in the aftermath of the U.S. election, Monday’s dramatic risk-on move saw the Cboe Volatility Index halt its decline. The VIX edged higher, bringing to an end a five-day streak of losses. Already buoyed by Joe Biden’s presidential victory, U.S. junk bond yields plunged to a record low on Monday. The average yield for the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. corporate high-yield index sank to 4.56%, dropping below the previous record of 4.83% set in June 2014.

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