Before The Bell - Wall Street soared higher yesterday, building upon last week’s gain. Traders were injected with a large boost of confidence after Moderna (MRNA) announced promising Phase III trial data for its vaccination candidate. Specifically, the biotech company said that its vaccine was 94.5% effective when used on COVID-19 patients from a diverse age range. Furthermore, Moderna’s offering reportedly remains stable at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the minus 94 degrees required by Pfizer’s (PFE) vaccine, which was announced last week. In light of the encouraging data, Moderna intends to file emergency use authorization submissions to the FDA shortly.
The Dow Jones Industrials ended the session up 470 points, or 1.6%, marking a record high. The S&P 500 also reached new heights, advancing 41 points (1.2%), while the tech-heavy NASDAQ added 94 points (.8%). However, it was small-caps that won the day, with the Russell 2000 Index gaining 1.8%. Nearly all of the major market sectors were in the green, with the biggest advances coming from energy (+4.9%), financials (2.3%), and industrials (2.2%). Healthcare stocks were the only group losing ground, shedding about a quarter percentage point on the session. Altogether, advancing issues led decliners by a better than four-to-one margin.
Elsewhere oil prices also moved higher, with light sweet crude up 3.1%, to about $41.40 a barrel. Although COVID-19 cases continue to rise in many areas, the increased hopes of a vaccine arriving fairly soon have helped ease worries that the global economic decline will continue to hurt oil demand. The commodity is up about 1.5% over the past 30 days, but still off by more than 28% versus a year ago. Meanwhile, the European bourses also put in a strong performance. France’s CAC-40 and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 led the charge, each advancing 1.7%, while Germany’s DAX was up .5%.
As we look to the new day, stocks in Asian markets were positive for the most part, but the European bourses are trading down slightly. Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures are suggesting some profit taking at the opening bell, and crude oil prices have slipped about 1.5%. The latest report on retail sales showed an uptick of 0.3% in October, falling slightly short of expectations. Looking ahead, tomorrow brings the latest monthly figures on housing starts and building permits, with both expected to show modest gains versus September. This will be followed on Thursday, with initial jobless claims, existing home sales, and the Index of leading economic indicators. – Mario Ferro