US stocks resume climb as investors cheer COVID-19 vaccine progress

Goldman Sachs NYSE trader
  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday after Pfizer and BioNTech revealed positive final-analysis data on their coronavirus vaccine.
  • The companies’ candidate was 95% effective at protecting against COVID-19 in trial patients, Pfizer said Wednesday. The firms plan to apply for emergency-use authorization “within days.”
  • The news lifted major indexes and spurred investors to push more cash into small-caps and cyclical stocks.
  • Boeing surged after the Federal Aviation Authority approved its 737 Max model for flight after a 20-month grounding.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities gained on Wednesday as final analysis of Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine revived hopes for near-term distribution.

The companies’ experimental drug was 95% effective at protecting trial participants against COVID-19, Pfizer announced Wednesday morning. The firms aim to apply for emergency-use authorization in the US “within days.” While the Food and Drug Administration’s vetting process is set to take weeks, the historically quick vaccine development suggests vulnerable populations could receive the shot in early 2021.

The market’s vaccine-fueled rally kicked off on November 9, when Pfizer revealed early data on its vaccine candidate. The news spurred a mass exodus from growth stocks to value names and cyclicals. Though equities dipped from record levels on Tuesday, the latest vaccine update brings prices within spitting distance of all-time highs.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 p.m. ET market open on Wednesday:

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Pfizer and BioNTech climbed on the news. The morning announcement also extended gains across index futures.

Small-cap stocks led the market’s uptick as investors continued rotating into riskier names. The Nasdaq composite once again lagged its peers, a reversal from the tech-fueled rallies seen throughout the summer.

Though Pfizer’s announcement brings the US closer than ever to distributing a vaccine, the market’s reaction was decidedly less enthusiastic compared to past vaccine updates.

“It’s been a frantic few weeks, with the hype around the election barely easing off before vaccine euphoria took over,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda Europe, said. “Perhaps we’re now seeing a little fatigue kicking in ahead of what is likely to be a lively end to the year.”

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Boeing leaped higher after the Federal Aviation Administration decided its 737 Max jet can fly again after its 20-month grounding.

Bitcoin surged above $18,000 for the first time since its infamous late-2017 rally. The world’s most popular cryptocurrency cleared the $17,000 resistance level just yesterday. With momentum showing no signs of stopping, all eyes are on whether the token can clear the $20,000 for the first time.

Gold prices dipped 0.2%, to $1,876.98 per ounce, as the precious metal remained mired in its narrow trading range. The US dollar fell slightly against a basket of major currencies and Treasury yields were largely unchanged.

Oil futures gained on the hopeful vaccine news. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 2.5%, to $42.46 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international standard, rose 2.6%, to $44.89 per barrel, at intraday highs.

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