Wall Street closes lower as surging Covid-19 cases offset vaccine hopes

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 22, 2020

On Friday, all three key indices of Wall St. had rounded off the session sharply lower with trade-sensitive Dow Jones Industrial Average leading the tally of the losses, as a relatively thin-trading session on Friday had witnessed a withering profit-taking sell-offs as concerns were mounting over the time-consuming rollouts of a potential pandemic vaccine, while a growing grudge regarding a renewed pandemic restriction measures adopted by a number of USA cities had casted fresh doubts on investors' belief over the recovery of a frail U.S. economy which had entered into a technical recession back in February this year.

Throughout the week, the ebb and flow of vaccine news and spiking infections had investors oscillating between economically sensitive cyclical stocks and pandemic-resistant market leaders.

The Nasdaq edged 0.2% higher, boosted by a rise in shares of stay-at-home darlings Zoom Video Communications Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 47.27 points, or 0.16%, to 29,391.15, the S&P 500 gained 1.57 points, or 0.04%, to 3,569.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 66.93 points, or 0.57%, to 11,868.54.

"Markets are still stuck in a push-and-pull between the dramatic rise of new COVID cases versus apparent progress on vaccines", said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in NY.

The decision to pull the plug on CARES act, a program deemed essential by the central bank, comes at a time of spiraling new coronavirus infects and a fresh wave of layoffs, was called "disappointing" by Chicago Federal Reserve president Charles Evans. "The timing of this dust-up is unfortunate, as the risk of COVID is still very much with us".

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, only utilities eked out a gain by the closing bell.

Wall Street falls as virus cases surge
Dow, S&P 500 end Friday and week with losses as investors fret over lack of government support as COVID cases rise

In the latest development in the race to develop a vaccine, Pfizer Inc has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first application of its kind in the battle against the disease. The drugmaker's shares rose 1.4 percent, and provided the biggest lift to the S&P 500. Technology and industrials suffered the largest percentage losses on the day.

Semiconductor stocks and other stay-at-home plays, which have thrived throughout the health crisis, helped keep the Nasdaq green.

However, the World Health Organisation advised doctors against treating Covid-19 patients with Gilead's remdesivir drug, stating that it had "no meaningful effect" on survival or need for ventilation.

Declining issues matched advancing ones on the NYSE, and on the Nasdaq a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 112 new highs and seven new lows.

Volume on USA exchanges was 10.69 billion shares, compared with the 10.70 billion average over the past 20 trading days.

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