Dow Futures Turn Higher on Pfizer Vaccine Timeline; September Retail Sales Impress With 1.9% Gain

Wall Street is looking to snap a three-day losing streak Friday after Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company "may know whether or not our (coronavirus) vaccine is effective by the end of October."

The Friday Market Minute

  • Global stocks mixed as markets continue to focus on the worrying rise in coronavirus infections in Europe and the lack of a new fiscal stimulus deal from Washington.
  • U.S. stocks will attempt to snap a three-day losing streak as lawmakers haggle over a new coronavirus relief bill, but hopes of a pre-election agreement are fading amid Republican in-fighting.
  • The World Health Organization says Gilead Sciences' coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, had little impact on patients in a trial of more than 11,000 patients.
  • Wall Street futures jump higher heading into the opening bell after a stronger-than-expected reading of September retail sales and an optimistic timeline for Pfizer's vaccine development.

U.S. equity futures turned higher Friday after Pfizer Inc.  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report said it could be ready to apply for emergency use approval of its developing coronavirus vaccine as early as next month.

The optimistic timeline may help Wall Street snap a three-day losing streak as many of the concerns that have pressured markets this week, from rising coronavirus infections to fading hopes of a stimulus agreement, continue to blunt investor sentiment.

Stocks were also boosted by a stronger-than-expected reading of September retail sales, which rose 1.9% from last year against the Street consensus forecast of a 0.7% gain.

President Donald Trump's offer to raise the amount of offer in a Republican-lead stimulus bill past the current level of $1.8 trillion gave stocks a late-session boost yesterday, but that rally petered out when Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he wouldn't take it to the floor, citing concerns for both the level of spending it would contain and the policies it would support.

McConnell's reluctance, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's hard-ball negotiating tactics, likely mean a deal isn't going to be reached in the few weeks that remain between now and November 3.

With investors now discounting the impact of any near-term fiscal boost, market direction will likely rely on the pace of corporate earnings growth in the coming weeks and the outlook for business closures and travel restrictions if the current wave of coronavirus infections in Europe finds its way into the United States.

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Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average suggest a 150 point opening bell decline prior to the retail sales release, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 17 point bump. Nasdaq Composite futures, meanwhile, are guiding for a 76 point gain for the tech-focused benchmark.

Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report shares were an early mover of note, falling 1.15% in pre-market trading after the World Health Organization said its developing coronavirus treatment, remdesivir, had little impact on patients in a trial of more than 11,000 patients.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was marked 0.15% lower at 93.717, but still looks on track to book its best weekly gain since the summer amid the rising tide of global risk aversion in financial markets. 

Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields, meanwhile, edged around 1 or 2 basis points higher to 0.727%.

European stocks were firmly in the green in early Friday trading, with the Stoxx 600 rising 1% in Frankfurt and Britain's FTSE 100 up 1.35% in London, while stocks in Asia ended the session lower after last night's negative close on Wall Street and the overhang of Europe's rising coronavirus infection rates and the lockdowns they've triggered in major economies around the region.

Global oil prices were also lower in early European trading, held down once again by concerns that lockdowns will trim near-term demand but still trading in the tight range that has defined the well-supplied market for a number of weeks.

WTI contracts for November delivery, the U.S. benchmark, traded 51 cents lower from their Thursday close in New York and were changing hands at $40.45 per barrel in early European dealing while Brent contracts for December, the global benchmark, were seen 59 cents lower at $42.57 per barrel.