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Stock Market News for Dec 24, 2020

Benchmarks closed mixed on Wednesday after investors’ sentiment were overshadowed by President Trump’s opposition on fresh stimulus packages passed by the Congress. Investors also tracked progress in coronavirus vaccine rollout and its scope of reviving the US economy. Markets will remain close on Friday on account of Christmas Day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 114.32 points, 0.4%, to close at 30,129.83 and the S&P 500 rose 2.75 points, or 0.1%, to close at 3,690.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 12,771.11, declining 36.80 points, or 0.3%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) decreased 3.8%, to close at 23.31. Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones for 3.83-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.19-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq favored advancers.

How Did the Benchmarks Perform?

The Nasdaq had notched its 54th record close of 2020 on Tuesday, however, the tech-laden index failed to close in the green territory on Wednesday as heavyweights like, Inc. AMZN, Apple Inc. AAPL and Microsoft Corporation MSFT all dipped.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, eight ended in the positive territory, with energy sector jumping 2.2% higher for the session, followed by a 1.6% rise in financials sectors. Among the Dow’s biggest gainers are JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. GS and American Express Company AXP that closed at least 2% higher on Wednesday. JPMorgan flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

On Dec 23, the S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 177 new highs and no new lows.

Vaccine Rollout News Ease Investors

On Wednesday, Pfizer Inc. PFE & BioNTech SE BNTX announced a second deal with the U.S. government to supply an additional 100 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine. Investors cheered the news as this deal now brings the total number of doses available for American to 200 million. The vaccines are expected to be delivered by the end of July 2021. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far more than 1 million people has been vaccinated in the United States and the government’s goal is to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of next year.

Additionally, tensions eased after health experts said that the vaccines in production would be effective against the new variant of coronavirus. The positive development on the vaccine front helped travel-related stocks rebound, airline carriers like United Airlines Holdings, Inc. UAL and Delta Air Lines, Inc. DAL jumped 2.7% and 3.3%, respectively for the session. Shares of Carnival Corporation & Plc CCL and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. NCLH rose 5.7% and 6.2% respectively on Dec 23.

Trump Calls Covid Relief Package an Unsuitable “Disgrace”

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump rallied against the new Covid-19 stimulus package. Trump called the new $900 billion coronavirus relief package an unsuitable “disgrace” and rebuked lawmakers to alter the bill’s content. He especially disapproved the direct payments of $600 and said it should be increased to $2,000. This move could delay the deployment of funds to struggling Americans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also agreed with Trump’s call for higher payments, and said that the House of Democrats will seek to pass a standalone bill by unanimous consent by Thursday.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Trump vetoed a sweeping defense bill that would authorize a topline of $740 billion in spending and outlines Pentagon policy.

Economic Data

On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims dropped to 803,000 for the week ending Dec 19, beating the consensus estimate of 863,000 and previous week’s revised figure of 892,000. However, claims remained at elevated levels due to restrictions to curb the spread of new coronavirus cases.

Another report by the Census Bureau stated that new orders for manufactured durable goods increased $2.2 billion or 0.9% to $244.2 billion in November. This is a seven consecutive month increase and beats the consensus estimate of 0.6% increase or $482 billion. October’s durable goods orders were also revised to a 1.8% increase. Shipments of manufactured durable goods increased $0.7 billion or 0.3% to $250.1 billion in November.

Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that personal income decreased 1.1% or $221.8 billion in November, beating the consensus estimate of 0.3% decline. October’s figure has also been revised to 0.6% decline. Additionally, consumer spending dropped 0.4% in November compared to a revised 0.3% increase in the previous month.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported that new residential sales declined 11% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 841,000 in November. The figures are below October’s revised rate of 945,000 and also beat the consensus estimate of 993,000.

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