Stocks traded higher on Wednesday to kick off the second half of 2020 with market sentiment getting a lift from positive coronavirus vaccine news and strong U.S. economic data.
A study of a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech showed the drug created neutralizing antibodies. The results were released online, but have not been reviewed by a medical journal yet.
“We are encouraged by the clinical data of BNT162b1, one of four mRNA constructs we are evaluating clinically, and for which we have positive, preliminary, topline findings,” said Kathrin U. Jansen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, in a release.
The company also said that, if the vaccine get regulatory approval, it expects to make up to 100 million doses by year-end and “potentially” more than 1.2 billion by the end of 2021. Pfizer shares jumped 4.1% on the news and BioNTech’s U.S.-listed shares rose 4.8%.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street” that Pfizer is seen as credible so investors will like the news. “This is highly unlike Pfizer … I, frankly, don’t want to accept it like this, but the market will and it’s kind of a saved-by-Pfizer market from where we were,” said Cramer.
Pfizer and BioNTech’s news comes as more than 12 states have now paused or rolled back their reopenings, with cases in the U.S. jumping 40% over the past week to an average of about 39,750 on Monday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Shares of companies that would benefit from the economy reopening rose on Wednesday. United Airlines gained 7.5% and Delta climbed 3.3%. Cruise operator Carnival advanced 4.9% and Royal Caribbean advanced 7.4%. Retailer Kohl’s climbed 2.4%.
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that if the outbreak continues at its current pace, daily new cases could surpass 100,000 new infections per day.
“We continue to expect it to be an uneven process, albeit with a positive trajectory,” Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services, said in a note. “The good news is through this digestion period, markets are working off some of the excesses that had built up, and elevated expectations are being reset.”
Wall Street was coming off its best quarterly performance in decades. The Dow notched Tuesday its biggest one-quarter surge since 1987. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq had their best quarters since 1998 and 1999, respectively.
Big ADP revision and manufacturing jump
ADP and Moody’s Analytics said private payrolls jumped by 2.37 million in June. Payrolls for May were also revised to a gain of more than 3 million from a loss of 2.76 million.
Meanwhile, The Institute for Supply Management said U.S. manufacturing activity grew to its highest level since April 2019, recovering from a sharp contraction in May.
The market just notched its best quarter in decades as it snapped back from the historic sell-off triggered by the coronavirus. The Dow gained 17.8% in the second quarter, posting its best quarter since 1987, while the S&P 500 finished the period with a near 20% gain, its best since 1998. The tech-heavy Nasdaq soared 30.6% for the quarter, the most since 1999.
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