Dow Ends Lower as Virus Spikes - New York to Shut Schools

Stocks fall on surging virus cases and moves toward more shutdowns even as investors cheer progress toward development of a vaccine.
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Stocks ended lower Wednesday as New York City moved to close schools again and as coronavirus infection numbers continue to rise.

New York City said its public school system, the largest in the country, would close on Thursday and return to remote learning as virus transmission in the schools has spiked. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended off 345 points, or 1.16%, to 29,438, the S&P 500 finished down 1.16% and the Nasdaq declined 0.8%.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report said Wednesday its coronavirus vaccine candidate reached a 95% efficacy rate, topping that of Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report, following final analysis of its late-stage trials.

Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report, said the efficacy rate of the vaccine was consistent across all age and race demographics. It also was well-tolerated in all age groups.

The companies said they will apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in the coming days. 

Pfizer shares ended up 0.8% at $36.32.

Progress on halting the disease comes as more U.S. states begin imposing stricter lockdowns to stem the resurgence of the virus. 

The U.S. recorded nearly 1,600 deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on Wednesday. Total deaths are just shy of 250,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

Boeing  (BA) - Get Report shares fell 3.2% to $203.30 even after the flight ban on the company's 737 MAX was lifted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA Administrator Steven Dickson said he was "100% confident" in the safety of the aircraft after rescinding a 20-month old order and allowing the plane to resume commercial flights. 

The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. The crashes ultimately were linked to the jet's navigation system.

Stocks ended lower Tuesday as optimism about a coronavirus vaccine faded somewhat with the reality that the pandemic continues to escalate in the U.S. and across the globe. 

A decline in U.S. retail sales also served as “a warning shot that Covid-19 is still with us, and its effects will not miraculously disappear overnight,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that while positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials were “certainly good news, particularly in the medium term, in the near term there are significant challenges and uncertainties. Even in the best case, widespread vaccination is months into the future.”

He added that the U.S. economy has a “long way to go” before it returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking to meet to restart stalled negotiations on another coronavirus relief package. The two sides haven't discussed the relief bill since the Nov. 3 presidential election.

JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon had this to say about the stalled stimulus talks: "I know now we have this big debate ... is it $2.2 trillion, $1.5 trillion. You got to be kidding me. I mean just split the baby and move on."

He added, "This is childish behavior on the part of our politicians."