Dow Closes Up 800, Nearly 3%, on Coronavirus Vaccine Progress

Stocks jump as Pfizer says the vaccine candidate it's developing with BioNTech prevented more than 90% of infections in a large-scale study.
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Stocks finished sharply higher Monday after Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report said the coronavirus drug candidate it's developing with BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report prevented more than 90% of infections in a large-scale study.

The report came on the same day the U.S. recorded its 10 millionth case of the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 834 points, or 2.95%, to 29,157, the S&P 500 jumped 1.17%, and the Nasdaq ended down 1.53% after trading higher for most of the session. 

Stay-at-home stocks such as Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report and Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Report tumbled.

The Dow set an all-time high intraday earlier in the session of 29,933 - the blue chip index last set a record on Feb. 12. That 29,933 mark was an intraday rise of 5.7%. The S&P 500 set an intraday record Monday of 3,645.

Stocks came slightly off their highs after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was coming “dangerously close” to a second wave of the coronavirus, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy introduced tougher restrictions on restaurants and bars and indoor sports.

Pfizer shares jumped 7.6% to $39.17 after the New York health-care giant reported on the vaccine's effectiveness in late-stage trials and said that later this month it planned to seek emergency-use authorization from U.S. health officials.

Pfizer said it saw no serious safety concerns from its ongoing trial, and expects to have as many as 1.3 billion doses produced next year if and when the drug is ultimately approved by regulators. In the interim, Pfizer said it would seek emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration in late November.

The company's Phase III trial should be concluded in early December. The 90% efficacy rate, Pfizer said, was identified from 94 confirmed cases who received two doses of the vaccine.

Pfizer Says Coronavirus Vaccine Is 90% Effective

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a new coronavirus task force and warned that it was important to realize a vaccine was still months away.

“There’s a need for bold action to fight this pandemic. We’re still facing a very dark winter,” Biden said.

Stocks also were buoyed by Biden being declared the winner of the presidential election over the weekend and as he began outlining his plans for when he takes offices in January.

Biden promised that on his first day as president he would tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed the lives of nearly 238,000 Americans. 

The U.S. surpassed 10 million cases of the coronavirus on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University, with new daily case counts topping 125,000.

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, and David Bossie, the lawyer leading President Donald Trump's post-election legal challenges, both tested positive for the coronavirus.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has also tested positive for the disease.

In creating a new science-based task force and seven-point plan to tackle the outbreak, Biden said he would "spare no effort" to "turn around this pandemic" in order to get the struggling U.S. economy back on track.

Most on Wall Street expect a Biden presidency and a Senate still controlled by Republicans would allow the pro-business policies of the Trump administration to continue and would tame Biden's spending ambitions.

"Last week was stellar for the markets, and while pullbacks are typical after such momentum, the bull market has a ton of ammunition to keep going," said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investing product at E-Trade. 

"With more certainty around the election, a strong quarter of earnings across many sectors, and extremely positive news on the vaccine front, there is little to hold us back. 

"Keep in mind that when you remove the virus from the equation, we are set up tremendously well for growth given the unprecedented easy money policies of the (Federal Reserve). 

"Traders are no doubt plotting their next move, and while gridlock in Washington could mean more of the same, they may see opportunity in industries effected by Biden’s initiatives, like energy and healthcare."