Nov 10, 2020 - Economy

The winners and losers in the market's vaccine rally

Reproduced from Charles Schwab; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Charles Schwab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Risk assets had a very good day on Monday, but U.S. stock performance was mixed after news that a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech could be distributed to millions of people before the end of the month.

Why it matters: Beyond just stocks, Monday's market moves clearly reflected investor enthusiasm and a market pricing in a return to pre-pandemic life that will benefit risk at the expense of safety.

By the numbers: Oil prices jumped and broad stock market indexes around the world rose after news about the possible vaccine.

  • MSCI’s index of global stocks gained 1.3%.
  • Emerging market stocks rose 1.4%.
  • The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 4%.
  • Oil prices posted their biggest daily percentage gain in more than five months, with Brent crude gaining 7.5% to close above $42 a barrel and U.S. WTI crude rose by nearly 8.5%, above $40 a barrel.

On the other side: Safe-haven assets were sold broadly, with 30-year Treasury yields rising by the most since March and the Treasury yield curve hitting its steepest level since March.

  • The Japanese yen fell against the U.S. dollar by 2%.
  • Gold, which had been moving largely in concert with broader equities prices in recent weeks, fell by almost 5% to its lowest since mid-July.

Between the lines: The Dow rose by nearly 3%, more than doubling the return of the S&P 500 (up 1.2%), while the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 1.5%.

  • The 30-company Dow was boosted by Disney, Boeing and Chevron, which each gained more than 11% on the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq had its worst day since Oct. 30 and was led downward by companies like Netflix, which fell by around 9%, as well as Zoom and Peloton, which both declined by almost twice that much on the day.
  • Value and cyclical stocks outperformed growth and momentum stocks by the most in a single session since 2000 by some measures, according to FactSet.
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Pfizer, the company at the center of the market's bullish jolt, was able to get its stock price back to even on the year after gaining 7.7% Monday.

  • CEO Albert Bourla detailed what the next steps are for the company and how soon a vaccine could realistically be available for everyday Americans, as many expect it will not be until well into 2021.

What's happening: Bourla says Pfizer is working already with the U.S. government and government leaders from around the world — even though the company did not accept government funding as part of the Trump administration's Project Warp Speed — to "provide the scientific background and insight" about the vaccine.

  • Still, "in the beginning, it is clear that there will be more limited distribution," Bourla told Axios' Dan Primack on the ReCap podcast.
  • "50 million doses is 25 million people globally. Even if half goes to the U.S., that means that it's going to be 12 million people that we can protect in the next 1½ months. Very important protection, but still a small part of the population."

Between the lines: The timing of the announcement relative to the U.S. presidential election raised some eyebrows and Bourla insisted it was merely coincidence.

  • "I learned about those results yesterday, Sunday, at 2:00. And the independent experts’ committee, independent from Pfizer, that unblinded the data and reviewed, they met at 11 and they finished their meeting at 1:30."
  • "So on Sunday morning, we didn't want to lose a day, right? They didn't do it Monday. They did it Sunday. The committee met and they reviewed the data."
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