stock markets

US stocks end lower again as COVID-19 fears offset vaccine optimism

Agence France-Presse

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US stocks end lower again as COVID-19 fears offset vaccine optimism

WALL STREET. A person walks past the New York Stock Exchange at Wall Street in New York City on November 16, 2020.

Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP

'This is a tug of war between vaccine excitement and nervous trepidation' about the virus, says analyst Art Hogan

New York City’s move to temporarily close schools because of the coronavirus offset optimism about COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, November 18, weighing on United States stocks two days after major indices hit records.

Equities were choppy throughout the day, but took a distinct downward path once New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the school closures after the city hit its target of a 7-day average coronavirus positivity rate of 3%.

The move came as US coronavirus cases tick higher, with Johns Hopkins University reporting nearly 162,000 new cases in the last day.

“This is a tug of war between vaccine excitement and nervous trepidation” about the virus, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

Major US indices finished the day about 1% lower. Both the Dow and S&P 500 finished at records on Monday, November 16, but have now fallen the last two days.

“For most of the day, the market struggled to gain any traction despite a host of positive news related to a vaccine, economic data, and corporate earnings,” said a note from 

“Presumably, this was because the market was pricing in a lot of the good news in its record-setting rally this month and needed to consolidate those gains.”

Earlier, European equities had advanced following an upbeat announcement from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The two pharma companies said a completed analysis of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine found it protected 95% of people against the disease – up from early data showing 90% efficacy, and announced they were applying for US emergency approval “within days.”

Frankfurt and Paris both finished 0.5% higher, while London added 0.3%.

Markets anticipate that broad distribution of vaccines should enable the economy to normalize in 2021, boosting especially hard-hit sectors such as airlines and entertainment stocks.

Petroleum-related stocks are also beneficiaries from an economic rebound. Crude prices rose around 1% – a day after the OPEC+ club of oil producers agreed they had to be ready to act on output cuts to prevent another slump in prices.

Bitcoin continued its rally, surging above $18,000 in Asian trading hours, before pulling back.

Among individual companies, Boeing ended 3.2% lower after the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the 737 MAX to resume service following a 20-month shutdown. Shares had initially soared after the announcement, which had been widely expected.

Disney dipped 0.4% after S&P slashed the credit rating on the entertainment company, citing the drag from the coronavirus on Disney’s theme park business.

Key figures around 9:50 pm GMT
  • New York – Dow: DOWN 1.2% at 29,438.42 (close)
  • New York – S&P 500: DOWN 1.2% at 3,567.79 (close)
  • New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.8% at 11,801.60 (close)
  • London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3% at 6,385.24 (close)
  • Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.5% at 13,201.89 (close)
  • Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.5% at 5,511.45 (close)
  • EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4% at 3,482.17 (close) 
  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1% at 25,728.14 (close)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.5% at 26,544.29 (close)
  • Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2% at 3,347.30 (close)
  • Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1853 from $1.1852 at 10 pm GMT
  • Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3270 from $1.3199
  • Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.86 yen from 104.58 yen
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.33 pence from 89.79 pence
  • West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9% at $41.82 per barrel
  • Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.4% at $44.34 per barrel


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