Nasdaq, S&P 500 turn negative, as falling tech stocks outweigh renewed hope for coronavirus vaccine – MarketWatch

Stocks closed mostly lower Monday, with the Dow clinging to a modest gain, after technology stocks fell and rising coronavirus cases led California’s governor to order businesses across the state to shutter once again.

Equity benchmarks started with sharp gains after the Food and Drug Administration granted “fast track” status to a pair of vaccine candidates produced by Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech SE.

How did major benchmarks fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

eked out a 10.50 point gain, a rise of less than 0.1%, to end at 26,085.80. The Nasdaq Composite

tumbled 226.60 points, or 2.1%, to close at 10,390.84, after setting a new intraday record at the start of trading. The S&P 500

fell 29.82 points, or 0.9%, to finish at 3,155.22.

Stocks rose in thin trade last week, with tech stocks firmly in the lead. The Nasdaq on Friday scored its third consecutive record close and logged a 4% weekly rise ending Friday at 10,617.44. The Dow saw a 1% weekly rise to 26,075.30, while the S&P 500 advanced 1.8% for the week to 3,185.04. Friday’s session, meanwhile, saw the lowest daily volume since Feb. 21, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

What drove the market?

A rally in technology and tech-related companies that propelled the Nasdaq Composite to a new intraday high on Monday faded in afternoon trade, leaving the benchmark and S&P 500 index both firmly in negative territory at the closing bell.

The Nasdaq still is up 15.8% in 2020, even as the S&P 500 was modestly negative for the year. But major equity benchmarks took a breather Monday, after an initial rally sparked by the Food and Drug Administration granting Pfizer Inc.

and BioNTech SE

accelerated status on two of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Shares of Pfizer closed up 4.1%, while those of BioNTech rose 10.6%.

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods at all,” said John Carey, director of equity income U.S. at Amundi Pioneer, in an interview. “Even if you get a vaccine, it will take awhile,” he said of widespread adoption that could eventually lead to immunity against the viral outbreak.

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California also took a U-turn on Monday afternoon, with Gov. Gavin Newsom ordering every county in the state to shutter bars, indoor dining, movie theaters and wineries, while the state grapples with soaring COVID-19 cases.

Earnings season also kicks off this week. The bar has been set remarkably low as investors largely write off second-quarter earnings, devastated by the pandemic. That’s why analysts will be watching results for clues to a third- and fourth-quarter rebound that skeptics say might be difficult to fulfill if the coronavirus spread continues unabated.

“The market is certainly hyperfocused on the development of treatments around COVID-19 and around vaccines. That’s becoming the number one driver of this market, even more than stimulus was over a month ago,” said Matthew Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management.

“But we also are going to get to look behind the curtain of businesses that haven’t provided guidance,” he told MarketWatch. “It should be eye opening to say the least.”

The aggregate blended year-over-year growth estimate for earnings per share, which includes some earnings already reported and the average analyst estimates of coming results, is negative 44.6% as of Monday morning, according to FactSet.

Earnings Outlook:S&P 500 earnings set to plunge as the coronavirus batters all sectors — with Wall Street counting on a bounce that may not come

Stocks had been shaking off a renewed rise in the number of coronavirus cases, which have surged across much of the Sun Belt, even though analysts have been warning that the resurgence threatens to slow, if not derail, the rebound in economic activity if officials reinstate lockdown measures.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday also issued an emergency health order that requires all travelers to New York from high-COVID states to provide location details or face a summons and $2.000 fine, while also outlining a formula to reopen New York schools in the fall that will require infection rates to be below 5% based on 14-day averages.

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“We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs,” Cuomo said.

Investors also have been keeping an eye on threats of renewed U.S.-China tensions. President Donald Trump on Friday said there was no scope for a phase-two agreement on trade between the two countries, saying Washington’s relationship with China had been “severely damaged” by the coronavirus pandemic, which the administration has sought to blame on Beijing. China’s move to crack down on Hong Kong with the passage of strict new national security laws has also raised tensions.

Read:China’s stock market just jumped 6%. This is a good thing and Westerners should be glad. No, really.

Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said U.S. economic growth is slowing after initial burst in May, while speaking at the National Press Club.

Which companies were in focus?
  • Shares of PepsiCo Inc.(TICKER:PEP) rose 0.3% after the beverage and snack giant reported second-quarter profit and revenue that declined less than expected thanks to a resilient snacks and food business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Analog Devices Inc.

    In deal news, chip maker
    on Monday said it had agreed to acquire Maxim Integrated Products Inc.

    in an all-stock deal with a combined enterprise value of over $68 billion. Shares of Analog Devices fell 5.8%, while Maxim shares rose 8.1%.

  • AMCEntertainment Holdings Inc.’s shares

    fell 7.4% after the owner of the world’s biggest cinema chain said it had reached an agreement to reduce its debt by at least $460 million and has secured $300 million in new funding.

  • Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp.

    Electric-vehicle maker Fisker Inc. is going public, through a reverse merger with a blank-check company Spartan sponsored by private-equity firm Apollo Global Management. Shares of  
    fell 9.8%.

  • Tesla Inc.

    Shares of
    fell 3.1%, with its market capitalization at about $320 billion.

  • Apple Inc.

    shares fell 0.5%, even after Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty on Monday said the iPhone maker could get a boost from expanded uptake of trade-in programs, while upping her price target on Apple’s stock to $419 from $340 and maintaining an overweight rating.

  • Moderna Inc.

    shares shot up 14.7% Monday, after Nasdaq said it was adding the drugmaker to the Nasdaq-100 Index

    before the market opens on July 20.

  • Ford Motor Co.

    shares ended 0.7% lower after the auto makers said customers who buy or lease a new vehicle through Ford Credit can return it within the first year if they lose a job.

  • Shares of Carnival Corp.

    dropped 5.5% Monday amid concerns over how the recent surge in COVID-19 cases will affect the timeline for restarting cruises in the U.S. Analyst James Hardiman at Wedbush cut his price target to $20 from $29 while reiterating his neutral rating.

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What did other markets fare?

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite

rose 1.8%, while the CSI 300 Index

advanced 2.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index

rose 2.2%, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong

edged up 0.2%.

In Europe, the pan-European

Stoxx 600 Europe Index finished 1% higher, while London’s FTSE 100

gained 1.3%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note

rose half a basis point to 0.638%. Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was off 0.1%.

Oil futures ended lower, with the U.S. benchmark

off 1.1%, or 45 cents, to finish at $40.10 a barrel after The Wall Street Journal over the weekend said Saudi Arabia was pushing OPEC and its allies to ease production curbs beginning in August. Gold

futures ended up 0.7% to settle at $1,814.10 an ounce.

William Watts contributed reporting


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