How major USA stock indexes fared Monday

Andrew Cummings
November 24, 2020

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.12 per cent, the S&P 500 gained or 0.56 per cent while the Nasdaq Composite added only 0.22 per cent, underperforming as traders rotated away from big tech names. Australia's index was stronger by 1.26%, hitting its highest level in almost nine months, as energy stocks led the group there.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 2.5% to 26,159.97 in afternoon trading.

Reports that Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to become the next Treasury Secretary further boosted USA stocks on expectations she would pursue more conventional policies than the outgoing Steven Mnuchin. Overseas markets also rose, and Treasury yields climbed. Widely admired in the financial world, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the department in a line stretching back to Alexander Hamilton in 1789, taking on a pivotal role to help shape policies at a perilous time. It is also tempering lingering concerns about new government controls as the virus spikes in the USA and globally.

"Investors continue to embrace and see the optimism in the development of vaccines, providing light at the end of the tunnel and multiple choices on how to get there", said Adam Taback, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 177 new highs and 11 new lows. In another signal that investors were feeling confident, the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks outpaced the broader market, picking up 32.96 points, or 1.8%, to 1,818.30.

Numerous companies making gains would greatly benefit from a vaccine allowing people to travel, shop and dine out. Platinum rose 0.9% to $934.17, while palladium dropped 0.8% to $2,337.01.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is the third major trial to report success after US-based Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc with Germany's BioNTech SE, sending pandemic-weary investors to take on risk in hopes of a swift economic recovery.

"Markets have been constrained by very high levels of uncertainty on the US political front and around vaccines for weeks, so with those two going away investors are considering the prospect of a return to normality in 2021", said Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays. They will reopen on Friday for a half-day session.

Investors awaited USA economic growth data due out Wednesday after Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index ended last week down as rising infection numbers collided with hopes for a possible vaccine.

Last week, Pfizer and Moderna both reported study results showing their vaccines were nearly 95% effective. The drug, which Trump received when he was sickened last month, is meant to try to prevent hospitalization and worsening disease from developing in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

US crude advanced 0.14% to $43.12 per barrel and Brent was at $46.10, up 0.09% on Tuesday, while an index of commodity prices touched its highest since early March.

The progress made on COVID-19 vaccines, which had underpinned Wall Street overnight, helped keep risk appetite elevated as it boosted optimism about a quicker revival for the global economy.

The New Zealand dollar was among the currency gainers, rising as much as 0.9% to a two-year high of $0.6985 as its central bank said house prices, which have been storming higher this year, could be included in its inflation basket. Brent crude, the global standard, gained 53 cents to $46.59 a barrel.

The dollar declined to 103.72 yen from Friday's 103.84 yen. The euro cost $1.1855, down from $1.1905.

Other reports by iNewsToday