Stock market news live updates: Stocks turn negative despite more positive vaccine trial data

Emily McCormick

Stocks fell Wednesday afternoon, reversing earlier gains after new data from Pfizer (PFE) helped momentarily stoke investor confidence that an effective vaccine will become available in the coming months.

[Click here to see what’s moving markets heading into Thursday, Nov. 19]

The pharmaceutical company reported Wednesday that it had concluded its Phase 3 trial of its vaccine candidate, and found its inoculation to be 95% effective against COVID-19. A week earlier, with fewer participants with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were available to analyze, Pfizer had said its vaccine candidate was “more than 90% effective.” Pfizer added Wednesday it now has the safety data required to be able to submit for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration “within days.”

Though prospects for a highly effective vaccine have improved significantly over the past two weeks, traders in the near-term still continue to weigh the still-elevated numbers of new daily virus cases and hospitalizations in the U.S., with more than 159,000 new cases reported on Tuesday alone. The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases has surged by nearly 80% to more than 155,000 per day, according to data from the New York Times.

Newly announced restrictions also capped stocks’ rally from earlier this week. New York City said Wednesday it will be closing in-person schooling starting tomorrow after the virus infection rate hit the city’s 3% trigger to induce broader social distancing standards.

“I think [there’s] clearly some angst around the COVID case count and just some of the pressure we’re under on that front across the country,” Ed Perks, Franklin Templeton Multi-Asset Solutions chief investment officer, told Yahoo Finance. “Clearly we have some events coming up — we have college kids coming back home, we have the holidays with Thanksgiving, so some nervousness around what is in store for us on the virus.”

An ongoing rotation into cyclical stocks that had been hit hard earlier on during the pandemic also remained a focus area for investors. The small-cap Russell 2000 index (^RUT) jumped to a record high on Tuesday, bucking the trend of the three major indices. The index has outperformed the S&P 500 from the March 23 lows with a 77.8% surge versus the blue-chip index’s 62.1% gain. And in the S&P 500, cyclical sectors including energy, financials and industrials have so far outperformed for the month of November to date.

In the early stages of the economic recovery, investors will likely continue piling into the pandemic-cheapened stocks of quality, some analysts noted.

“I think the rotation that’s likely to stick is more of a rotation to quality than necessarily value, given that the [economic] signs we see are uneven,” Simeon Hyman, ProShare Advisors global investment strategist, told Yahoo Finance. “It just might not be enough to sustain that straight cyclical recovery that value really needs.”

In one of the latest signs of pockets of moderating growth in the economy, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that retail sales rose just 0.3% in October over September, missing expectations and coming in at the slowest rate since April. Still, spending remained back above pre-pandemic levels.

4:03 p.m. ET: Dow drops 346 points or 1.2% as new virus restrictions overshadow upbeat vaccine data

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

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -41.74 (-1.16%) to 3,567.79

  • Dow (^DJI): -344.93 (-1.16%) to 29,438.42

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -97.74 (-0.82%) to 11,801.60

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.23 (+0.56%) to $41.66 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$16.20 (-0.86%) to $1,868.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1 bps to yield 0.8820%

1:52 p.m. ET: Stocks turn negative despite vaccine data

Here’s where the three major indices were trading just before 2 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -7.72 points (-0.21%) to 3,601.81

  • Dow (^DJI): -52.44 points (-0.18%) to 29,730.91

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -12.62 points (-0.11%) to 11,886.65

12:18 p.m. ET: Stocks hold onto gains as steady flow of vaccine news buoys equities

The three major indices held higher in intraday trading, with cyclical and “reopening” stocks recovering further as more positive vaccine news helped fuel hopes of a broad economic reopening in 2021.

The industrials, financials and materials sectors outperformed strongly in the S&P 500. Dow Jones Industrial Average components Dow Inc., Salesforce, and Caterpillar were the leaders in the index Wednesday afternoon.

The Dow rose 56 points, or 0.2%, and the S&P 500 jumped 0.2%, or 7 points. The Nasdaq outperformed slightly with a 0.3% rise, as tech stocks this week held up firmly even as stocks that had lagged so far this year made up some ground.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open mostly higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +1.65 (+0.05%) to 3,611.18

  • Dow (^DJI): +80.5 (+0.14%) to 29,825.64

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -6.06 -0.09%) to 11,890.28

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.49 (+1.18%) to $41.92 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$8.20 (-0.43%) to $1,876.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.2 bps to yield 0.86%

9:09 a.m. ET: U.S. home-building tops expectations in September

Housing starts in the U.S. jumped by 4.9% in October over September to a 1.530 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. This topped expectations fora. rise of 3.2%, according to Bloomberg consensus data. It also followed an upwardly revised 6.3% gain in September, and marked the fifth monthly rise in the past six months.

9:05 a.m. ET: Boeing shares jump more than 7% after FAA lifts 737 Max jet ban

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday said it was lifting a ban on flying commercial 737 Max jets, following a nearly two-year long grounding of the aircraft after two deadly crashes. As part of the announcement, the FAA also included software upgrades and training changes that Boeing must provide.

Shares of Boeing (BA) surged more than 7% in early trading following the news that its best-selling jet will be able to resume commercial services.

7:27 a.m. ET: Target posts 3Q results that blow past expectations as shopping at big-box retailers holds up

Target (TGT) posted third-quarter sales and profit that far surpassed expectations, as consumers continued to gravitate toward big-box retailers that provide a one-stop-shop for all their essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shares jumped more than 2.7% in early trading.

Target’s comparable sales grew 20.7%, or nearly double the 11.6% consensus estimate, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. Third-quarter adjusted earnings from continuing operations increased to $2.79, up from $1.36 over last year and above estimates for $1.60. And gross margins widened to 30.6%, versus 29.8% year-over-year, suggesting consumers returned to shopping for bigger ticket, higher-margin items instead of just food and paper products, which had pressured Target’s profit earlier on during the pandemic.

Digital sales jumped by 155% in the third quarter, holding up after a 195% year-over-year surge in the quarter prior.

7:20 a.m. ET: Lowe’s posts 3Q earnings that miss estimates as costs rise, guides toward moderating sales growth

Shares of Lowe’s (LOW) tumbled more than 5.5% in early trading Wednesday morning, after the home-improvement giant reported third-quarter profit that missed estimates and a guided toward a slowdown in sales growth to round out the year.

Third-quarter adjusted earnings were $1.98 per share, or two pennies below consensus analyst estimates. The miss on profit came even as revenue grew more than expected, as virus-related costs mounted. Net sales grew 28% over last year to $22.31 billion, and U.S. home improvement comparable sales grew 30.4%. That compares with competitor Home Depot’s 24.1% rise in U.S. comparable sales in the third quarter.

Lowe’s said it plans to see total and comparable same-store sales slow to a growth rate of between 15% to 20% for the current quarter, suggesting a moderation in demand for home improvement projects supplies that had powered both it and Home Depot’s sales higher earlier this year.

7:17 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures point to a higher open

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:17 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,618.75, up 12 points or 0.33%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 29,860.00, up 140 points or 0.47%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,990.25, up 15.25 points or 0.13%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.77 (+1.86%) to $42.20 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$20.10 (-1.07%) to $1,865.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.5 bps to yield 0.867%

6:04 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures open slightly lower

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:04 p.m. ET Tuesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,603.25, down 3.5 points or 0.1%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 29,697.00, down 23 points or 0.08%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 11,969.5, down 5.5 points or 0.05%

A person walks past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street on November 16, 2020 in New York City. - Wall Street stocks rose early following upbeat news on a coronavirus vaccine and merger announcements in the banking and retail industries. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
A person walks past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street on November 16, 2020 in New York City. - Wall Street stocks rose early following upbeat news on a coronavirus vaccine and merger announcements in the banking and retail industries. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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