Pfizer Begins UK Rollout; Markets Reverse Midday, Hit Record Highs

After opening the day in the red, markets reversed midday and hit fresh record highs as the UK began its vaccine rollout with doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s offering.

News Recap

  • The Dow Jones gained 104.09 points, or 0.4%, to close at 30,173.88 and hit an intraday record of 30,246.22. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 3,702.25 and closed over 3,700 for the first time ever. The Nasdaq also closed at a record and climbed 0.5% to 12,582.77. The Russell once again outperformed all the indices and closed 1.40% higher.
  • Pfizer began to roll out its COVID-19 vaccine in the U.K. and boosted optimism of an economic reopening in 2021. The U.K. ordered enough vaccines for 20 million of its residents to start getting.
  • The U.S. FDA said Pfizer’s vaccine provides some protection after the first dose, also adding that it found no safety concerns. It could be approved by the weekend.
  • Pfizer (PFE) shares rose 3.3% on this news and reached their highest level in about two years. BioNTech (BNTX), which partnered with Pfizer on the vaccine, also rose 1.8%.
  • Investors sharply monitored stimulus negotiations on Tuesday as well. At this point, legal immunity for businesses and aid for state and local governments are holding up the deal. However, Democrats and Republicans apparently have found consensus in some areas such as PPP loans.
  • Republican and Democrat leaders said Monday that Congress is trying to extend government funding for an additional week to try and strike a deal on the new stimulus before the end of the year.
  • More than 14.8 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S.’s seven-day-average daily infection rate is also at an all-time high.
  • Several states and cities have reimposed stricter measures as a result of the spike in cases. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York City could lose indoor dining next week among other more severe restrictions if hospitals become overwhelmed.
  • Dow Inc. (DOW), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and 3M (MMM) were among the Dow leaders, rising more than 1% each. Energy led the S&P 500 higher, popping more than 1.5%.

In the short-term, there will be optimistic days where investors rotate into cyclicals and value stocks, and pessimistic days where there will be a broad sell-off or rotation into “stay-at-home” names. During other days like Tuesday’s session, there will be a broad rally due to optimistic catalysts.

In the mid-term and long-term, there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel. Once this pandemic is finally brought under control and vaccines are mass deployed, volatility will likely stabilize, while optimism and relief will permeate the markets. In fact, CNBC personality Jim Cramer said that beating COVID-19 would feel like “the end of prohibition.” Stocks especially dependent on a rapid recovery and reopening such as small-caps should thrive.

Markets will continue to wrestle with the negative reality on the ground and optimism for a future economic reopening. More positive vaccine news seemingly trickles in by the day despite discouraging COVID-19 news, economic news, and political news. While short-term downside pressure could certainly persist based on days where bad news outweighs good news, due to this “tug of war” between sentiments, any subsequent move downwards would likely be modest in comparison to the gains since the bottom in March and since the U.S. election at the start of November. It is truly hard to say with conviction that another crash or bear market will come. If anything, the mixed sentiment could keep markets trading relatively sideways.

Therefore, to sum it up:

While there is long-term optimism, there is short-term pessimism. A short-term correction is very possible. But it is hard to say with conviction that a big correction will happen.

Related: NASDAQ Hits Another Record as Dow and S&P Fall on COVID-19 Fears