Nasdaq at Record Close - Pfizer Vaccine Report Lifts S&P 500

Stocks finish mixed after Pfizer and BioNTech report progress with a vaccine candidate and U.S. manufacturing data are strong.
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Stocks finished mixed Wednesday after Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report and partner BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report released a study of an experimental coronavirus vaccine that showed a "strong immune response" in human trials, and U.S. manufacturing data was better than expected.

The Nasdaq hit a record, closing up 0.95% to 10,154, while the S&P 500 finished 0.5% higher at 3,115. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 77 points, or 0.3%, to 25,734.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they now plan to test the most promising of their four vaccine candidates on up to 30,000 participants in trials set for the U.S. and Europe. 

No serious adverse effects were reported in the study, Pfizer said, but the drugmaker noted the treatment hasn't been cleared for broader use by health authorities.

If regulators ultimately approve the drug, the two companies plan to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of the year, and "at least" another 1.2 billion by the end of 2021, Pfizer said.

Meanwhile, the ISM manufacturing index in June rose to 52.6 vs. estimates of 49.8. The measure jumped in June to the highest since April 2019 as growth rebounded as lockdowns eased.

"We’re happy that manufacturing activity appears to have risen in June, but a full recovery is a long way off, and we’re worried about the risk of a temporary relapse in the face of the second Covid wave," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. 

"For now, though, this is a good-looking print, but there’s less to it than meets the eye."

The Federal Reserve, in minutes of its June 9-10 meeting released Wednesday, said “the current stance of monetary policy remained appropriate” but added there remained "extraordinary uncertainty and considerable risks to the economic outlook."

The minutes showed that various Fed officials said the U.S. economy might need support “for some time.” It added the Fed should try to improve the guidance it provides on monetary policy.

“In particular, most participants commented that the committee should communicate a more explicit form of forward guidance for the path of the federal funds rate and provide more clarity regarding purchases of Treasury securities and agency [mortgage-backed securities] as more information about the trajectory of the economy becomes available,” the Fed's minutes said.

U.S. private payrolls rose by 2.37 million in June, slightly lower than economists' estimates of 2.5 million. The employment data from ADP are a precursor to the official U.S. jobs report, which will be released Thursday ahead of the long Independence Day weekend.

Stocks on Tuesday finished their best quarter since 1998 with solid gains following a steep decline in the first quarter after the coronavirus pandemic caused the U.S. economy to tumble.

The S&P 500 rose 1.5% on Tuesday, bringing its gain for the quarter to nearly 20%. The Dow posted its best quarterly gain since 1987. The Nasdaq had its best quarter since 1999.