Stock market news live updates: S&P 500 loses gains after report says Pfizer is contending with vaccine supply chain issues

Emily McCormick
·Reporter
·8-min read

The S&P 500 erased earlier gains and ended Thursday’s session slightly negative after a report emerged that Pfizer was contending with supply-chain issues that would impact this year’s deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine. The Nasdaq, however, managed to eke out a record closing high.

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Friday, Dec. 4]

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday afternoon that the drug-maker expects to ship just half of the COVID-19 vaccines it had planned for 2020 due to problems with its supply chain, or 50 million as opposed to the 100 million it previously said it would deliver. However, the company reportedly anticipates handing over more than a billion doses in 2021. Shares of Pfizer sank nearly 2% amid the news.

Earlier this week, more upbeat news came out around drugmakers’ coronavirus vaccines, though these did not trigger the outsized moves higher in the broader market seen last month. Britain became the world’s first country to grant emergency authorization for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and is set to begin shots within days. Though emergency use authorization of the vaccine is still being reviewed in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration, officials have expressed optimism about first doses getting rolled out in the middle of December.

Still, Americans will continue to contend with the coronavirus pandemic in the meantime until the vaccine becomes available on a widespread basis. Robert Redfield, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said during a virtual event Wednesday that December, January and February are likely “going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our health-care system.” He added that COVID-19 deaths could total nearly 450,000 in the U.S. in February, rising rapidly from the more than 270,000 reported to date.

With a tough winter left to endure, some lawmakers have amplified calls to pass another round of fiscal stimulus before year-end. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer each said they supported a bipartisan group of lawmakers’ recently unveiled $908 billion stimulus proposal, despite the sum being less than the $2 trillion package the Democratic lawmakers had sought previously. President-elect Joe Biden also endorsed the bill, and suggested that it would be the start of a more comprehensive suite of relief legislation once he is inaugurated in January.

Markets, however, have been bracing for a stimulus package for months, and many economists have baked in expectations of further fiscal stimulus into their baseline outlooks for U.S. economic activity. That may leave little further upside for equities to trade around stimulus news, unless the eventual legislation is much larger in size and scope than currently anticipated, according to some analysts.

“I do think that we will have a deal, but the problem is the market is already anticipating it,” Bill Baruch, Blue Line Futures President, told Yahoo Finance. “Now I am bullish, and I think the path of least resistance is higher for stocks, but one thing again is, what are the markets’ expectations?”

“That $2 trillion headline that everybody had for months is dissipating, and markets are going to have to settle for a bit less. And when they do get it, is it going to be a buy the rumor, sell the news event? So those are things that are going through my mind when I’m trying to manage risk.”

4:08 p.m. ET: Nasdaq ekes out record closing high, while S&P 500 retreats after reports of vaccine supply-chain issues

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:08 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -2.29 (-0.06%) to 3,666.72

  • Dow (^DJI): +85.73 (+0.29%) to 29,969.52

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +27.82 (+0.23%) to 12,377.18

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.29 (+0.64%) to $45.57 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$14.80 (+0.81%) to $1,845.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.8 bps to yield 0.9200%

3:10 p.m. ET: Theater stocks sink after Warner Bros. says it will launch all movies next year on HBO Max concurrently with theatrical releases

AT&T’s (T) Warner Bros. said on Thursday it will release all its films scheduled to come out in 2021 on its streaming platform HBO Max at the same time as their theatrical release.

Films slated for 2021 release through the studio include “The Suicide Squad,” “Matrix 4,” “In the Heights” and “Mortal Kombat.” This year, “Wonder Woman 1984” is set to be released to both theaters and HBO Max on Dec. 25.

Shares of theater operators Cinemark Holdings (CNK) and AMC Entertainment (AMC) each slid more than 13% in intraday trading following the announcement, as investors took AT&T’s move as a signal of ongoing pressure for live theater attendance.

HBO Max was released in the U.S. in May this year, and costs $14.99 per month. Subscribers between HBO and HBO Max totaled 38 million as of the end of AT&T’s fiscal third quarter.

1:30 p.m. ET: Stocks rise, Dow tips back above 30,000

The three major indices extended gains Thursday afternoon, buoyed by stimulus and vaccine optimism, and a better-than-feared print on the labor market earlier in the day.

Reopening stocks including airlines, cruise lines and lodging firms jumped as November’s cyclical rally continued. The energy, industrials and real estates sectors outperformed in the S&P 500, and the index as a whole hit a record intraday high. Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance and Boeing led advances in the Dow.

11:07 a.m. ET: McConnell says stimulus deal compromise ‘within reach’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday morning that coming to an agreement on a stimulus package was “within reach,” helping to stoke investor confidence in a near-term bill out of Congress.

“Compromise is within reach,” he said. “We know where we agree. We can do this.”

Still, disparities remain between the proposals McConnell and House Democrats have supported. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they backed a bipartisan $908 billion relief package as a starting point for another round of aid. However, McConnell has pushed for a smaller bill of about $500 billion.

10:00 a.m. ET: Services sector expands for a sixth straight month in November

The Institute for Supply Management’s November service sector purchasing managers’ index (PMI) ticked down to 55.9 from October’s 56.6. The print was better-than-expected, with consensus economists looking for a reading of 55.8.

This marked the sixth straight month that the service sector held in expansionary territory with a reading over the neutral level of 50.0. Subindices tracking employment, prices paid to suppliers and deliveries accelerated during the month.

9:32 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:32 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +2.61 points (+0.07%) to 3,671.62

  • Dow (^DJI): +52.04 points (+0.17%) to 29,935.83

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +33.53 points (+0.27%) to 12,383.57

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.18 (-0.4%) to $45.10 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$15.80 (+0.86%) to $1,846.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.5 bps to yield 0.921%

8:30 a.m. ET: Jobless claims improve for the first time in three weeks

New weekly jobless claims fell for the first time in three weeks last week, and by a greater than expected margin, even as new virus-related restrictions swept the nation throughout November.

New claims totaled 712,000 for the week ended Nov. 28, falling from an upwardly revised 787,000 during the prior week. And continuing jobless claims, which track the number of individuals still receiving state unemployment benefits, fell to a fresh nine-month low of 5.52 million.

Still, the number of individuals claiming unemployment benefits in all programs remained historically elevated at 20.2 million. This includes those claiming unemployment insurance in federal programs authorized under Congress’s CARES Act from the spring. These benefits are set to expire at the end of the month without reauthorization.

7:20 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures point to a mixed open

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:20 a.m. ET Thursday morning:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -0.25 points (-0.01%) to 3,667.00

  • Dow (^DJI): -15 points (-0.05%) to 29,853.00

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +29 points (+0.23%) to 12,483.25

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.35 (-0.77%) to $44.93 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$14.30 (+0.84%) to $1,845.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.8 bps, yielding 0.928%

6:05 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:05 p.m. ET Wednesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,669.5, up 2.25 points or 0.06%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 29,888.00, up 20 points or 0.07%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,474.75, up 20.5 points or 0.16%

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28: People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan's financial district on October 28, 2020 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell sharply on Wednesday as fears grow over the worsening situation with the coronavirus pandemic's new wave across Europe and parts of America. Stocks on Wall Street fell over 900 points at the close of the trading day. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28: People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan's financial district on October 28, 2020 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell sharply on Wednesday as fears grow over the worsening situation with the coronavirus pandemic's new wave across Europe and parts of America. Stocks on Wall Street fell over 900 points at the close of the trading day. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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