Wall Street opened higher on Friday, with stocks aiming to re-test the week’s records in thin, post-Thanksgiving trading, as hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine momentarily counterbalance soaring infection rates.
The New York Stock Exchange will end the trading day at 1p.m. Eastern. Stocks are consolidated their gains after the Dow Jones Industrial Average was catapulted above 30,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday, with an increasing number of investors encouraged by expectations that a vaccine will be rolled out by early next year, if not sooner.
“In the US, we expect the first available doses to go to high-risk groups from mid-December onwards, leading to significant public health benefits from [the first quarter of 2021] onwards, followed by widespread vaccination commencing in April,” Goldman Sachs economists wrote in a research note on Friday.
“While the exact timeline remains quite uncertain, this analysis reinforces our baseline forecast that widespread immunization should drive a sharp pickup in global growth starting in Q2,” the bank added.
As an indication of how investors are pricing in the upside, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) — the market’s “fear gauge” — briefly dipped below 20, its lowest level in 9 months in early trading. The Dow (^DJI) is now up more than 13% this month — more than 10,000 points higher than the multi-year low it breached in March, when panic over the virus’ spread cratered global markets.
Separately, the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 (RUT) index also set a new records, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) is also zeroing in on a fresh historic high. The technology-heavy Nasdaq has lagged other indexes as investors rotate out of “stay at home” stalwarts benefiting from coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Still, the backdrop to the current bull market is a spike in coronavirus infections that are acting as a drag on economic growth, and undermining a jobs recovery. Another 778,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, underscoring how an implacable wave of COVID-19 infections are prompting states and cities to impose a new round of restrictions on public life.
Both the U.S. and Europe are global epicenters of the pandemic, yet major drugmakers have indicated that an inoculation is right around the corner.
A vaccine candidate from University of Oxford and AstraZeneca (AZN), which on Monday revealed that their candidate demonstrated efficacy of at least 70.4%, has since come under harsher scrutiny — prompting AstraZeneca to initiate a new trial. The company’s stock tumbled on Friday, as doubts about the data set in.
Separately, Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) has filed 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.
10:30 a.m. ET: Adobe: Thanksgiving sales soar over 21%, hitting new record
So much for the theory that consumers getting weary, or feeling strapped by COVID-19. Adobe Analytics reported on Friday that Thanksgiving Day hit a new record with consumers spending $5.1B — a jump of over 21.5% year over year. With the boom of mobile shopping, nearly half of all web sales came from smartphones, also a new record.
But there was a slight catch:
‘While yesterday was a record-breaking Thanksgiving Day with over $5 billion spent online, it didn’t come with the kind of aggressive growth rate we’ve seen with the start of the pandemic. Heavy discounts and aggressive promotions starting in early November succeeded at getting consumers to open their wallets earlier. While COVID-19, the elections and uncertainty around stimulus packages impacted consumer shopping behaviors and made this an unprecedented year in ecommerce, many consumers are still holding off on remaining gift purchases until today and Cyber Monday in hopes of scoring the best deals.’
10:15 a.m. ET: Elon Musk beats Warren Buffett…sort of
Tesla’s (TSLA) relentless rally — the stock cruised to a new high early Friday — has given the electric car maker a market share that’s even bigger than Berkshire Hathaway (BRK), the massive holding company founded by legendary investor Warren Buffett.
Tesla’s market cap is currently north of $560 billion, the largest of any carmaker, while Berkshire’s is $543 billion. These numbers fluctuate often with stock prices, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher in short session
Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:30 a.m. ET:
S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,639.36, +9.71 (+0.27%)
Dow (^DJI): 29,937.39, +64.92 (+0.22%)
Nasdaq (^IXIC): 12,182.59, +88.19 (+0.73%)
Crude (CL=F): $45.26 per barrel, -$0.45 (-0.98%)
Gold (GC=F): $1,783.80 per ounce, -$27.40 (-1.51%)
10-year Treasury (^TNX): flat to yield 0.8590%
9:15 a.m. ET: Is Black Friday what it used to be?
The short answer is…no. COVID-19 is accelerating a trend that had already been underway for years — namely, online buying supplanting the ensuing mayhem in brick-and-mortar retail shops during Thanksgiving weekend.
New evidence of that comes from a Bloomberg report showing retail foot traffic tumbled 9% year over year last week, according to data from SafeGraph:
Off-price, with a drop of 22.8%, and malls, department stores and apparel, with a decrease of 21%, had the biggest declines among six categories tracked.
Nordstrom, with a 71.9% decline, and Victoria’s Secret, with a decrease of 44.3%, notched the biggest year-over-year drops among a selection of retailers tracked. Dollar General had the top year-over-year increase, at 22.3%, followed by ALDI, at 16.1%.
Meanwhile, a separate report forecasts that Amazon will get a whopping 42% of all online retail spending, according to Truist.
9:00 a.m. ET: Thanksgiving may be a COVID accelerator
In the face of pleas from public health officials to avoid holiday weekend travel, Wednesday was in fact the busiest day at US airports since the start of the pandemic. The Transportation Security Administration screened over a million people on Thanksgiving eve.
Economists like Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid are optimistic that normalcy will resume next year, but “it is quite clear that Thanksgiving and Christmas pose Covid super spreader event risk in various countries. Canada held Thanksgiving on October 12th and many public health officials there have blamed this for the recent spike in cases.”
7:30 a.m. ET Friday: Stock futures advance in thin trade
Here were the main moves in equity markets, as of 7:30 a.m. ET:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,635.00, +7.75 (+0.21%)
Dow futures (YM=F): 29,882.00, +54.00( +0.18%)
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,197.75, +45.50 (+0.37%)