Nasdaq-100 hits new record, S&P 500 rises, Pfizer vaccine shows promise

The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, New York, U.S., June 26, 2020.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 rose moderately on Wednesday, but the Dow faltered. Positive coronavirus vaccine data from Pfizer and a strong private payrolls report boosted sentiment. Stocks are coming off of the best quarter in decades in a rebound from the depths of the coronavirus market rout. 

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates. 

4:01 pm: Tech leads market higher, Dow lags

Tech stocks and the Nasdaq led the way on Wednesday, with the composite rising 1% and closing at a record high. The S&P 500 gained 0.5%. The Dow bounced between positive and negative territory during the session and finished 77 points, or 0.3%, below the flat line. —Pound

3:53 pm: Nasdaq-100 hits all-time high

The Nasdaq-100, made up of the 100 biggest nonfinancial members of the composite, rose 1.6% to hit a new intraday all-time high on Wednesday and is on pace to close at a record as long as it closes above 10,209.82. The bigger index is also not far from a record. The Nasdaq Composite climbed more than 1% on Wednesday, sitting within 0.37% of its intraday all-time high of 10,221.85 from June 23. The tech-heavy benchmark is on pace to close at a new record as long as it closes above 10,131.37, its record close from June 23. —Li, Francolla

3:36 pm: Airlines slip into negative territory

Airline stocks have steadily declined during the session, erasing morning gains. Shares of United were down 0.5% despite the company announcing that it was adding flights in August. American and Delta fell 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively, after rising earlier in the session. —Pound

2:59 pm: Final hour of trading: S&P 500 and Nasdaq head for 3-day winning streak

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were on pace to post their third straight daily gain amid news of positive data from a Pfizer vaccine candidate. The S&P 500 climbed 0.5% while the Nasdaq advanced 0.9%. The Dow lagged, falling about 20 points. —Imbert

2:29 pm: The S&P 500 having its best 100-day stretch in more than 80 years

Data compiled by Bespoke Investment Group showed the S&P 500 is having its best 100 calendar-day stretch since 1933, rallying nearly 40% in that time. “The last 100 days for the S&P 500 will no doubt go down as legendary in the annals of stock market history (just as the 33 days that preceded them were also historic),” Bespoke said in a note. — Imbert

Source: Bespoke Investment Group

2:25 pm: Economy will likely need monetary support ‘for some time,’ Fed minutes show

Federal Reserve officials think the U.S. economy will need monetary support “for some time” as the country tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the minutes released Wednesday from the central bank’s most-recent meeting. The minutes also said “it will be important in coming months for the Committee to provide greater clarity regarding the likely path of the federal funds rate and asset purchases. Participants generally indicated support for outcome-based forward guidance.” — Imbert 

2:23 pm: Fed policymakers say negative rates won’t be an attractive tool

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed policymakers were not considering negative interest rates. “This view was supported by Federal Reserve communications that negative interest rates did not appear to be an attractive policy tool,” the minutes said. The central bankers pointed out a decline in the federal funds rate and remained close to the effective lower bound. Meanwhile, market-implied forward rates referring to 2021 and 2022 turned slightly negative for a few days beginning on May 7. However, the policymakers said, “this development did not reflect investors expecting the FOMC to lower the federal funds rate target range below zero.” — Li

2:21 pm: Fed to keep interest rates low to maintain inflation target

Interest rates will remain low for some time to come, just to maintain a healthy inflation level, according to minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting. “Participants noted that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy would likely be needed for some time to achieve the 2 percent inflation objective over the longer run,” the Fed minutes read. The Fed also noted the pandemic’s effects on the economy and inflation: “Members further concurred that the ongoing public health crisis would weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term and posed considerable downside risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.” — Lewis

2:19 pm: April may have been the trough of the recession, Fed minutes show 

The Federal Reserve believes April could be the trough of the recession, although it is too early to tell, officials said Wednesday in minutes from its latest meeting. “The data suggested that April could turn out to be the trough of the recession, but participants agreed that it was too early to draw any firm conclusions,” the minutes said. Members said that the unemployment rates for May likely understated the extent of unemployment, meaning the rate was higher than reality. Plus, the central bank noted that the number of laid-off workers who expected to be rehired was unusually large. — Fitzgerald

2:17 pm: Fed minutes show concern about ‘considerable risks’ over the medium term

Federal Reserve policymakers are concerned that the ongoing pandemic poses ‘considerable risks’ to the U.S. economic outlook over the medium term, according to the June meeting minutes released on Wednesday. The participants also agreed that second-quarter economic data would “likely show the largest decline in economic activity in post-World War II history.” — Pound

Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2018.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

2:13 pm: Fed minutes show staff looking at accommodative policy ‘for many years’

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed that the central bank’s staff is modeling different scenarios for policy in the years ahead. Specifically, Fed staff indicated that the Federal Open Market Committee would have to keep monetary policy easy for years to come to help the U.S. economy rebound from the current Covid-induced downturn.

“The staff presented results from model simulations that suggested that forward guidance and large-scale asset purchases can help support the labor market recovery and the return of inflation to the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent inflation goal. The simulations suggested that the Committee would have to maintain highly accommodative financial conditions for many years to quicken meaningfully the recovery from the current severe downturn.” — Franck

1:09 pm: Stocks making the biggest moves midday

FedEx — Shares of FedEx jumped more than 14% after the company’s stellar fourth quarter results as consumers flocked to online shopping amid the pandemic. The stock is on pace for its best day since Sept. 29, 1986.

Pfizer — Shares of drugmaker Pfizer surged more than 5% after the company said its vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech, showed positive data. Covid-19 patients had neutralizing antibodies after receiving the vaccine, the company said.

Beyond Meat – Shares of Beyond Meat surged more than 7% after the maker of meat alternatives said that Alibaba’s grocery stores would start selling its meatless burger patties, marking its entry into supermarkets in mainland China. 

Check out more companies making headlines in midday trading. –Li

12:56 pm: Stocks usually follow big quarters with even more gains

The market could be in store for more gains following the S&P 500’s biggest quarterly rally since 1998, if history is any indication. Data compiled by SunTrust/Truist Advisory showed the S&P 500 gained an average of 8% after posting one of its 10-best quarterly returns dating back to 1950.

CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here. —Imbert

12 pm: Markets at midday: Vaccine news lifts stocks to start the second half of 2020

The major averages were higher around midday, boosted by positive coronavirus vaccine news. The S&P 500 gained 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.7%. The Dow, meanwhile, eked out a small gain. Wall Street was coming off its biggest one-quarter gain in decades and its third straight monthly advance. —Imbert

11:18 am: Macy’s sinks after giving no guidance

Shares of Macy’s fell 2.8% on Wednesday after the company did not provide forward guidance with its first quarter results. The company’s results were in line with preliminary numbers released in June. —Pound

10:22 am: U.S. manufacturing activity jumps to its highest level since April 2019

The ISM U.S. manufacturing index rose to 52.6 in June from 43.1 in May. That’s the index’s highest level dating back to April 2019, when it hit 53.4. “This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the second straight month after April’s contraction, which ended a period of 131 consecutive months of growth,” said Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. Fiore added the June surge “signifies manufacturing entering an expected expansion cycle after the disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” —Imbert

9:45 am: FedEx on pace for its best day ever

FedEx shares jumped about 16% on the back of stronger-than-expected earnings, putting the logistics giant on pace for its biggest one-day gain on record. Wednesday’s gain — if it holds through the close — would top a previous record set Nov. 1, 1978. That day, the stock jumped 15%. —Imbert

9:31: Stocks start the quarter in the green

U.S. equities started the third quarter on a strong note on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped about 90 points, or 0.35%, at the opening bell. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 0.25% and 0.2%, respectively. Stocks got a boost from a strong private payrolls report and positive data on a coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer. — Fitzgerald 

9:14 am: Pfizer surges on vaccine promise 

Shares of drugmaker Pfizer surged more than 6% in premarket trading on Wednesday after the company said its vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech, showed positive data. Covid-19 patients has neutralizing antibodies after receiving the vaccine. 

“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, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research & Development, Pfizer. “We are dedicated to develop potentially groundbreaking vaccines and medicines, and in the face of this global health crisis, we approach this goal with the utmost urgency. We look forward to publishing our clinical data in a peer-reviewed journal as quickly as possible,” the company said in a release. 

Pfizer said if the vaccine receives regulatory approval, the drug companies are expecting to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021. — Fitzgerald 

9:08 am: Reopening names rebound after revised jobs data, vaccine report

Stocks of companies that would perform best under a reopening of the U.S. economy rebounded before after a positive private payrolls report and a report that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine saw positive results. Airlines, which had been among the largest laggards in the premarket session just one hour ago, rose across the board. United gained 6.2%, American added 3.2% and Southwest advanced 2.6%. Cruise-line company Carnival added 1.7% while mall owner Simon Property Group climbed 2%. — Franck

9:04 am: Stock futures turn positive on vaccine news

Shares of Pfizer jumped 3% in premarket trading on Wednesday on news the company’s Covid-19 vaccine —in partnership with BioNTech — helped immune response in patients with the deadly virus. The study results showed the vaccine created neutralizing antibodies. BioNTech rose 7% in premarket trading before halting for news pending.  The report said the drug did cause a fever and other side effects. The study results were released online and have not been released in a journal yet. Stock futures turned positive on the news, also helped by the strong ADP jobs report. — Fitzgerald 

8:38 am: Job gains could fade and rebound could be threatened by surging virus outbreak

As the second half begins, the resurgence of Covid-19 is threatening the economic rebound and the jobs recovery. Several economists told CNBC they are not yet ready to change their forecasts for a bounce back in the third quarter, but they are monitoring the situation as states close some activities or hold off some reopenings in response. Economists expect 2.9 million jobs were added in June, but several say July data could show job losses if more of the economy is shut down.
In the second quarter, economists expect the initial shutdowns resulted in a more than 30% contraction in gross domestic product. By the third quarter, economists surveyed by CNBC/Moody’s Analytics expect a median gain of 13.5% for the third quarter. —Domm

8:22 am: Private payrolls rise 2.37 million in June, May’s number revised

Businesses continuing hiring workers in June following the coronavirus shutdown. Private payrolls rose by 2.369 million in June, a bit below the 2.5 million estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones, according to ADP. Another bright spot of the report was the revised May reading, which initially saw jobs lost. May’s number went from an initially reported loss of 2.76 million to a gain of 3.065 million. — Fitzgerald, Cox

8:15 am: Beyond Meat soars after China announcement

Shares of Beyond Meat jumped more than 10% in premarket trading after the company announced a deal with Alibaba to sell its meatless burger patties in Freshippo grocery stores in mainland China. Beyond products will be in 50 locations in Shanghai by the end of this week and another 48 locations in other cities by September. —Pound, Lucas

8:02 am: Reopening names down in premarket after eight states report record cases

Stocks popular among investors betting on the reopening of the U.S. economy slid in premarket trading after eight states reported all-time highs of Covid-19 cases on Tuesday. Fears that government will be forced to re-impose strict distancing and travel limitation hit stocks of travel and retail stocks especially hard. Airlines including American Airlines (down 2%) and car-rental company Avis (down 2.2%) comprised some of the biggest laggards before the bell. Cruise-line operator Carnival retreated 2.4% while retailers Kohl’s and Gap lost 2.8% and 1%, respectively. — Franck

7:59 am: Second quarter best in decades

U.S. equities wrapped up their best quarter in decades on Tuesday as markets recovered 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 technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite soared 30.6% for the quarter, the most since 1999. The Nasdaq was the first of the major averages to make back all of its coronavirus losses.— Fitzgerald 

7:52 am: Senate passes extension for PPP

The Senate agreed to extend the Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8 just hours before the program was set to expire. About $660 billion has been approved for use in the program, with about $130 billion remaining. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who is chairman of the Small Business Committee, said on Twitter that “what we really need to pass very soon is targeted help for those who need a second round of aid.” —Pound, Associated Press

7:51 am: ADP expected to show 2.5 million private payrolls added in June

Economists expect the ADP private sector jobs report to show 2.5 million payrolls were added in June. The 8:15 a.m. ET report is viewed as a preview of sorts for the government’s employment report, which is due Thursday morning. The government report is expected to show that 2.9 million jobs were created in June, up from the 2.5 million in May, according to Dow Jones. The ADP number does not correlate with government data many times. For May, ADP showed a decline of 2.76 million jobs.  Economists had expected a substantial 8 million decline in May payrolls, and were surprised by the gain. — Domm

7:50 am: FedEx shares jump after earnings beat, JPMorgan upgrade

Shares of FedEx jumped more than 11% during premarket trading after the company’s fourth quarter results beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom line as consumers flocked online amid the pandemic. Separately, JPMorgan upgraded shares to an overweight rating, based on the company’s ability to hike prices.

CNBC PRO subscribers can read more about the firm’s bull case here. – Stevens

7:35 am: New quarter, Dow futures sink 200 points 

In the first trading day of the third quarter, U.S. equity futures ticked lower and pointed to losses at the open on Wednesday. Dow futures dropped about 220 points, or 0.9%. S&P 500 futures fell 0.6% and Nasdaq-100 futures slid 0.4%. 

On Tuesday, the Dow climbed 217 points, or 0.85%, to close out the best quarter for stocks in decades. The S&P rallied 1.54% and the Nasdaq Composite closed up 1.9%. — Fitzgerald

— with reporting from CNBC’s Patti Domm, Yun Li, Fred Imbert, Jeff Cox, Al Lewis and Thomas Franck. 

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