Stocks jump on coronavirus vaccine hopes, earnings optimism

Material stocks helped drive the S&P as gold and silver prices rallied

U.S. equity markets climbed on Wednesday, closing near session highs as investors looked past renewed tensions between the U.S. and China to focus on progress toward a coronavirus vaccine.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES29601.12-309.25-1.03%
SP500S&P 5003615.51-22.84-0.63%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12151.206547-54.64-0.45%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose165 points, or 0.62 percent, while the S&P 500 added 0.58 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite, erased earlier losses, rising 0.24 percent to give the tech-heavy index its 47th trading day without back-to-back-losses, the longest streak on record.

A big catalyst for investors came after the U.S. government reached a $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 100 million doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine after it receives regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration. A Phase 2b/3 trial of the experimental vaccine, with human participants, is scheduled to begin later this month and will be ready for regulatory review as early as October 2020.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
PFEPFIZER INC.38.09+0.83+2.24%
BNTXBIONTECH SE118.10+8.11+7.37%

China-based companies, including Alibaba, JD.com and Weibo lagged the broader market as tensions between Washington and Beijing flared, with the U.S. government ordering China to close its consulate in Houston in order to protect intellectual property and private information.

After the eviction order, Chinese officials were seen burning documents, according to local reports. Beijing has vowed to retaliate.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABAALIBABA GROUP HOLDING LTD265.35-11.06-4.00%
JDJD.COM INC85.76-3.65-4.08%
WBWEIBO CORPORATION43.06-0.05-0.12%

Looking at earnings, United Airlines posted a quarterly loss of $1.6 billion as operating revenue plunged 87 percent from a year ago. Over 6,000 employees have taken severance packages after the company announced earlier this month that up to 36,000 workers could be furloughed.

TESLA NEEDS TO PROVE ITS WORTH AFTER ELECTRIFYING STOCK-PRICE SURGE

Snap Inc. shares were sharply lower after the social-media company reported its net loss rose 28 percent from a year ago and its number of global daily active users fell short of Wall Street estimates.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.45.56+0.27+0.58%
SNAPSNAP INC.44.78-1.24-2.68%

Elsewhere, Best Buy said quarter-to-date sales were up 2.5 percent, bolstered by a 225 percent surge in online sales. The electronics retailer began allowing customers to shop without an appointment starting on July 15.

The stock is hovering near an all-time high and levels not seen since February.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BBYBEST BUY109.16-3.41-3.03%

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Las Vegas Sands, Microsoft and Tesla are set to report their quarterly results after the closing bell.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CMGCHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC.1,278.06-20.98-1.61%
LVSLAS VEGAS SANDS CORP55.88-0.75-1.32%
MSFTMICROSOFT CORP.212.40-2.83-1.31%
TSLATESLA INC.581.93-3.83-0.65%

Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was little changed at $41.90 a barrel while investors continued to pile into precious metals.

Gold spiked $21.70 to $1,864.10 an ounce and silver jumped $1.58 to $23.08 an ounce, the largest one-day dollar gain since September of 2013.

U.S. Treasurys ticked higher, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down by 2.3 basis points to 0.584 percent.

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European markets were lower across the board, with France’s CAC pacing the decline, down 1.32 percent, while Britain’s FTSE and Germany’s DAX were weaker by 1 percent and 0.51 percent, respectively.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 2.25 percent and Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.58 percent while China’s Shanghai Composite bucked the trend, gaining 0.37 percent.