Global stocks flatline, bond yields slide as caution replaces vaccine euphoria

FAN Editor
A U.S flag is seen on the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City
A U.S flag is seen on the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, New York, U.S., November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

November 13, 2020

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street advanced and the U.S. Treasury yield curve steepened on Friday as upbeat earnings and assurances from President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID advisory team helped investors look past the threat of new economic lockdowns to combat record spikes in coronavirus infections.

Encouraging results from Cisco Systems Inc and Walt Disney Co helped send Wall Street’s three major stock indexes higher.

Economically sensitive cyclicals and small caps, stocks that were the stars of the rally at the beginning of the week, once again led the charge. On Monday, investor risk appetite was boosted by Pfizer Inc’s announcement that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed with German partner BioNTech SE appeared to be 90% effective.

The S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow were on track to post their second straight weekly gains, while at current levels the tech-heavy Nasdaq is lower than last Friday’s close.

“It’s been a tug of war between the eventual distribution of a vaccine which now looks fairly certain for 6 to 9 months from now, and the near-term prospects of a massive infection rate not only in the U.S. but globally,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

“Investors are trying to grapple with whether to look long- term to where the virus has been eradicated or reflect the near-term economic fallout from shutdowns,” Ghriskey added.

President-elect Joe Biden solidified his election victory as Arizona’s 11 electoral college votes were added to his column, but the official transition remains in limbo as President Donald Trump persists with his refusal to concede.

Still, Biden’s pandemic advisory board provided a glimpse into the next president’s coronavirus plan, and said there was no plan to enact a nation-wide shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 234.07 points, or 0.8%, to 29,314.24, the S&P 500 gained 25.88 points, or 0.73%, to 3,562.89 and the Nasdaq Composite added 55.43 points, or 0.47%, to 11,765.02.

European stocks turned positive after surging COVID infections threatened to halt the week’s sharp rally.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.19% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.46%.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.48%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.46% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.53%.

U.S. Treasury yields were mixed as investors consolidated positions ahead of the weekend and remained cautious overall given the surge in coronavirus cases. But the yield curve steepened on Friday, after flattening the previous session.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 2/32 in price to yield 0.893%, from 0.886% late on Thursday.

The 30-year bond last rose 4/32 in price to yield 1.6462%, from 1.652% late on Thursday.

Crude oil prices slipped as rising COVID infections threatened hopes of a demand rebound. Still, oil remains on track to post its second straight weekly gain.

U.S. crude fell 1.8% to $40.38 per barrel and Brent was last at $42.87 per barrel, down 1.52% on the day.

The dollar was down, but the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc strengthened, reflecting a loss of risk appetite driven by vaccine hopes.

The dollar index fell 0.17%, with the euro up 0.17% to $1.1824.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.47% versus the greenback at 104.65 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3168, up 0.41% on the day.

Gold prices rose as rising global coronavirus infections sparked renewed fears over the pandemic’s economic toll.

Spot gold added 0.9% to $1,892.81 an ounce.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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