S&P turns lower after Pfizer plans to pare coronavirus vaccine rollout

OPEC reaches deal to increase production by 500,000 barrels per day

U.S. equity markets surrendered the bulk of their gains in the final minutes of trading after a report said Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine rollout would be smaller than previously expected.

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The S&P 500 turned modestly lower falling 0.6% as Pfizer said its initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution will be 50 million doses or half the size that was initially expected, due to supply-chain issues, The Wall Street Journal reported about 15 minutes ahead of the closing bell. The company still expects to deliver more than 1 billion doses next year.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SP500S&P 5003768.25-27.29-0.72%
PFEPFIZER INC.36.70-0.05-0.14%

Still, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 85 points or 0.29%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.23%. The Dow had gained as much as 227 points after weekly jobless claims declined and as Congress made progress on a COVID-19 aid package.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES30814.26-177.26-0.57%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12998.502287-114.14-0.87%

COVID-19 STIMULUS PROGRESS

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Republican, said a deal on COVID-19 relief was "within reach" and that he hoped an agreement could be made before the end of the year.

McConnell has floated a $500 billion package while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, both Democrats, called the recent $908 billion package that has bipartisan support a starting point.

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ECONOMIC CATALYSTS 

There were several economic catalysts as weekly jobless claims totaled 712,000 last week, lower than the 775,000 new claims that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.

Additionally, ISM Non-Manufacturing for November expanded for the sixth straight month at 55.9, while the purchasing managers' index was revised higher to 58.4. Both continue to signal an economy that is improving.

Looking at stocks, Walmart, the nation's largest employer, announced new worker bonus payments bringing the total for 2020 to $2.8 billion.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
WMTWALMART INC.144.64-2.33-1.59%

Other names in focus are American Airlines Group, Carnival Corp., Las Vegas Sands Corp. -- all of which may benefit from aid and a reopening of the economy.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.15.76-0.68-4.14%
CCLCARNIVAL CORP.20.79-0.13-0.62%
LVSLAS VEGAS SANDS CORP53.44-2.24-4.02%

Separately, Delta Airlines will become the first carrier to enact contract tracing as travelers enter the U.S., the company noted in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.39.98-1.49-3.59%

Chinese companies listed in the U.S., including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Nio, the world’s fourth-largest automaker by market capitalization, are in focus after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which calls for overseas companies that do not comply with audit requests for three years to be delisted from American stock exchanges. The bill, which has already cleared the Senate, must be signed by President Trump to become law.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABAALIBABA GROUP HOLDING LTD243.46+0.48+0.20%
NIONIO INC.56.27-4.60-7.56%

Meanwhile, Tesla Inc. was upgraded at Goldman Sachs, which said shares have room to run another 37% from current levels to $780, due to the acceleration in the adaption of electric vehicles, falling battery costs, and government regulations moving in a favorable direction. Separately, noted short-seller Jim Chanos is no longer negative on the stock, a rare move for the noted investor.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TSLATESLA INC.826.16-18.84-2.23%

Looking at earnings, cybersecurity-technology company Crowdstrike Holdings reported subscription revenue growth surged 87% from a year ago and raised its outlook.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CRWDCROWDSTRIKE HOLDINGS219.51-6.11-2.71%

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported comparable sales rose 17.1% for its fiscal first quarter, excluding gasoline and currency adjustments, driven by increased demand for food products and other merchandise amid the pandemic.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
COSTCOSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION362.16-0.19-0.05%

The U.S. dollar fell to a low of 1.2174 per euro, the weakest since April 2018, as money continues to flow into riskier assets ahead of the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The greenback was also at more than two-year lows versus the Australian dollar and the Chinese yuan.

OIL'S QUIET BULL MARKET

Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil added 36 cents to $45.64 per barrel after OPEC members and their allies reached an agreement to increase production by 500,000 barrels per day beginning in January. Gold, meanwhile, climbed $11.60 to $1,825.70 per ounce.

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