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Stock market news live updates: Wall Street catches breath after Dow hits 30K; Nasdaq hits record

Javier E. David
·Editor focused on markets and the economy
·8-min read

Wall Street consolidated its gains on Wednesday, with tech stocks hitting a new record but the broader market retreating, as soft U.S. data gave traders incentive to book profits on a record ruin.

Ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, optimism over the imminent deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine propelled the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 30,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday, extending a breathtaking rally that’s carried stocks deep into a bull market.

However, caution set in Wednesday, as investors digested weekly jobless claims that revealed a labor market that’s still struggling under the weight of the pandemic, as well as weak personal spending data. Another 778,000 workers filed for benefits, underscoring how an implacable wave of COVID-19 infections are putting a damper on business and consumer activity.

Still, the Nasdaq notched a record in quiet, pre-holiday trade, while other benchmarks slipped. On Wednesday, the Russell 2000 (RUT) index also set a new peak, and the Dow (^DJI) is up over 13% in November — more than 10,000 points higher than the multi-year low it breached in March, when panic over the virus’ spread cratered global markets. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) is also closing in on fresh records, with analysts expecting the index to breach 3800 sooner rather than later.

“The recovery is intact and the world likely re-opens in the [second half of 2021], but a lot of optimism is priced in already on vaccine/recovery,” Bank of America said late Tuesday. “Vaccine execution risk, delayed fiscal stimulus and longer lockdowns are risks.”

The technology-heavy Nasdaq, which have been beaten down as investors rotate out of “stay at home” stalwarts benefiting from coronavirus-related lockdowns, also posted strong gains. In early dealings, Tesla (TSLA) hit a new record high, and now has a market capitalization north of $500 billion — even before it joins the S&P 500.

Although a relentless wave of new COVID-19 infections has crashed down on the global economy — driving up hospitalizations and deaths in its wake — major drugmakers have indicated that an inoculation is right around the corner.

On Monday, University of Oxford and AstraZeneca (AZN) revealed that their candidate demonstrated efficacy of 70.4% in two large-scale trails, If a lower dose is used, then a second, full dose, the efficacy is up to 90%, the company said. Separately, Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) announcing plans to file for an emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which would allow them to have their vaccine used in the U.S. starting in December.

A fully inoculated public is seen as a boost to ravaged service industries like travel, leisure and entertainment.

“We retain high conviction in our arguments for above-consensus GDP growth in 2021 and 2022,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote last week.

“However, the rapid and broad-based resurgence of the coronavirus has led us to downgrade our Q4 and Q1 GDP forecasts. We now expect +3.5% and +1.0% annualized growth in Q4 and Q1,” the bank said — a sharp downward revision from previous estimates of +4.5% and +3.5%, respectively.

However, “the larger drag in the winter should imply an even larger re-acceleration on the back of mass immunization” that will boost growth from Q2 of next year onward, Goldman said.

4:04 p.m. ET: Stocks take a breather, Dow retreats from 30K in pre-Thanksgiving trade; Nasdaq hits record

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:04 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -5.78 (-0.16%) to 3,629.63

  • Dow (^DJI): -173.83 (-0.58%) to 29,872.41

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +57.62 (+0.48%) to 12,094.40

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.86 (+1.91%) to $45.77 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$0.70 (+0.04%) to $1,805.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.4 bps to yield 0.8780%

2:45 p.m. ET: What a Treasury Secretary Yellen would mean for policy

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Ex-Fed chair and current Treasury Secretary-designate Janet Yellen is a known quantity for markets, and arguably one of the better consensus cabinet choices that President-elect Biden could make. However, his administration faces real challenges in trying to enact a robust economic policy agenda.

According to a lengthy research note from Deutsche Bank, Yellen is seen pushing for a more expansive fiscal policy to address unemployment. The bank noted that:

... In terms of composition, Yellen would likely advocate for stronger federal support in a number of areas – extending federal unemployment insurance programs and reinstituting additional benefits; funds for small businesses which could allow firms to take out a second PPP loan; targeted relief to industries at the epicenter of the crisis like airlines; support for state and local governments whose budgets have come under substantial strain from the crisis; and funds to beef of the health response and support schools.

BUT:

As we have noted, however, Biden’s and Yellen’s ambitions in these areas will face binding political constraints that have so far hampered negotiations. In particular, Senate Republicans are likely to remain opposed to a fiscal package significantly above $500 billion. As such, agreement will likely require focusing on a narrower bill in the near-term that will help to support the economy as Covid trends continue to deteriorate and also serve as a bridge to the availability of a vaccine next year. On this point, Bernstein’s recent comments indicate that speed should take a priority over size in passing fiscal legislation in the near-term, a pragmatic point that we believe Yellen would agree with. She could therefore command an important role in breaking the political gridlock by convincing Democrats to reduce their asking price for the fiscal package size in order to deliver swifter – and much needed – relief.

1:15 p.m. ET: Stocks hug ranges as traders book profits on Dow’s run to 30K

Here’s where markets stood as of midday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,623.23-12.18(-0.34%)

  • Dow (^DJI): 29,882.37, -163.87 (-0.55%)

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 12,084.42, +47.63 (+0.40%)

  • Crude (CL=F): $45.52, +$0.61 (+1.36%)

  • Gold (GC=F): -$1,810.00, +$5.40 (+0.30%)

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): flat, to yield 0.8770%

11:45 a.m. ET: Slack spikes on report that Salesforce is looking to buy the company

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that software giant Salesforce (CRM) is in a buying mood, and has its sight set on workplace messaging service Slack (WORK). The latter’s stock was halted after a runup of over 24%.

If consummated, the deal would value Slack at over $17 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

10:30 a.m. ET: New home sales dip, but remain at high levels

Via Bloomberg:

New-home sales in the U.S. held up in October, remaining near the best pace since 2006 and well above pre-pandemic levels, the latest sign that record-low mortgage rates are underpinning robust buyer interest.Purchases of new single-family houses dropped 0.3% from September to a 999,000 annualized pace from an upwardly revised 1.002 million rate, government data showed Wednesday.

10:00 a.m. ET: Personal spending rises, beats expectations

File this one under ‘economic mixed signals:’ Personal spending rose by 0.5% last month, slightly ahead of consensus expectations of 0.4. Meanwhile, personal income tumbled by 0.7%, compared to Wall Street estimates of a 0.1% drop.

The data — which essentially show that consumers are spending more than they’re earning — is reflective of a weak labor market, and appears to defy sentiment numbers that show consumers are growing gloomier.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks slip after Dow hits record

Here are main moves in markets as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,630.21, -5.20 (-0.14%)

  • Dow (^DJI): 29,954.86, -91.38 (-0.30%)

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 12,061.71 +24.92 (+0.21%)

  • Crude (CL=F): $45.52, +$0.61 (+1.36%)

  • Gold (GC=F): -$1,810.00, +$5.40 (+0.30%)

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): flat, to yield 0.8770%

8:30 a.m. ET: Jobless claims worse than expected

The beleaguered U.S. labor market is absorbing a fresh wave of jobless workers, with 778,000 new unemployment claims filed in the latest week, as soaring COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths lead to renewed restrictions on business activity. That figure was worse than Wall Street’s consensus estimates, and shows how the virus’ surge is starting to affect an already battered market for displaced workers.

7:30 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures mixed ahead of jobless data

Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 7:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,634.50, +1.75 (+0.05%)

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 29,969.00, -29.00 (-0.10%)

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,117.75 +41.75 (+0.35%)

6:40 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures add to gains

Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 6:40 p.m. ET Tuesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3639.00, +6.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30047, +49

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12116.50, +40.50

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