Stocks end mixed as AstraZeneca restarts COVID-19 trials, J&J to follow

Vaccine progress helped lift sentiment late Friday

Stocks finished the session lower but curbed the bulk of earlier losses on reports Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca will resume trials of COVID-19 vaccines after a halt over safety issues.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 28 points lower or 0.1%, while the S&P and Nasdaq Composite edged out modest gains of over 0.3%.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES30004.63+413.36+1.40%
SP500S&P 5003627.31+49.72+1.39%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX11997.847149+117.21+0.99%

AstraZenca confirmed the Food and Drug Administration had reviewed all safety issues, along with global regulators, paving the way for the restart. For J&J, the company said it was preparing to restart.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
JNJJOHNSON & JOHNSON144.28+0.35+0.24%
AZNASTRAZENECA PLC53.74-0.96-1.75%

STOCKS SEE MODEST WEEKLY LOSSES

Still, U.S. stocks posted modest weekly losses. Weaker-than-expected results from several Dow members pushed the needle down on Friday.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
INTCINTEL CORPORATION46.76+0.70+1.52%
AXPAMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY119.07+2.90+2.50%
XOMEXXON MOBIL CORPORATION41.41+2.04+5.20%
CVXCHEVRON CORP.93.99+2.92+3.21%

Intel fell over 10% after chipmaker missed expectations. Results were negatively impacted by weak sales in its data center group.

AmEx fell after the credit card and payments giant reported mixed third-quarter results, as revenue beat expectations, but profit fell light.

Oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron dipped after Biden said he would push transitioning away from big oil.

Chipmakers WDC and Micron fell in sympathy, while Intel rival AMD rallied.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
WDCWESTERN DIGITAL CORP.45.43+0.95+2.14%
MUMICRON TECHNOLOGY INC.63.38-0.80-1.25%
AMDADVANCED MICRO DEVICES INC.85.04-0.27-0.32%

VACCINE-MAKERS 

Vaccine-makers got a boost after Gilead Sciences' drug remdesivir became the first virus treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19.

GILEAD WINS FIRST FDA OK FOR COVID-19 VACCINE

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GILDGILEAD SCIENCES INC.60.65+0.76+1.27%

This followed Trump's debate remarks saying a vaccine could be available in "weeks" while naming contenders including J&J, Pfizer and Moderna.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
JNJJOHNSON & JOHNSON144.28+0.35+0.24%
PFEPFIZER INC.36.36-0.16-0.45%
MRNAMODERNA INC.99.21-1.82-1.80%

STOCKS RALLY ON STIMULUS CROSSTALK, SOLID JOBS AND HOUSING DATA

STIMULUS TALKS STILL ONGOING

On the stimulus front, both sides said that talks will continue. However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow reiterated to FOX Business that "significant policy differences" remain on Friday. Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, "We're just about there" 24 hours ago.

Despite the comments from lawmakers, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with the U.S. passing 60,000 confirmed cases for a second straight day. More than 8.4 million Americans have contracted the virus, resulting in over 223,000 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

EARNINGS WRAP BUSY WEEK 

In other stock news, Illinois Tool Works shares were up after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AXPAMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY119.07+2.90+2.50%
ITWILLINOIS TOOL212.81+3.92+1.88%

Southwest Airlines said on Thursday that it will start selling the middle seats again on its flights starting Dec. 1. That leaves Delta Air Lines Inc. as the only remaining large airline to not sell middle seats amid worries about the pandemic.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
LUVSOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.48.74+1.91+4.08%
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.40.78+2.00+5.14%

Uber and Lyft were in the spotlight after the companies were told by a California court to reclassify independent drivers as employees, a move the apps have fought for some time.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UBERUBER TECHNOLOGIES INC.51.60+1.55+3.10%
LYFTLYFT INC.39.81+0.47+1.18%

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West Texas Intermediate crude oil moved up slightly to $40.77 a barrel, while gold rose to $1,911.70 an ounce.

European indices also rose on Friday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 climbing 0.7%. The German DAX, French CAC 40 and U.K. FTSE 100 also climbed on Friday, all gaining at least 0.8%.

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