Stocks cut gains as vaccine roll-out begins, investors eye stimulus

nayla good

Stocks were mixed on Monday as investors eyed the roll-out of the first coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. and hoped that lawmakers in Washington would end a months-long deadlock and move toward advancing a stimulus bill.

The Dow turned negative Monday afternoon after hitting a record intraday higher earlier in the session. The S&P 500 fell for a fourth straight day amid concerns of more virus-related restrictions, as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned the city may need to return to a “full shutdown” to stem the spread of the virus. The Nasdaq outperformed and held in positive territory.

The first doses of Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) COVID-19 vaccine were administered to Americans on Monday, after the Food and Drug Administration granted the inoculation emergency use authorization for those aged 16 and older on Friday. About 2.9 million doses will be the initial batch delivered first to frontline health care workers and nursing home residents across the country, as part of Pfizer’s contract with the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses to Americans free of charge by March.

“With the vaccine now shipping, we expect greater reaction from the broader market over the potential return to normal,” Bank of American equity strategists said in a note Monday. Still, they added, “we caution much work remains to vaccinate the population and don’t expect to see major progress until after mid-21.”

Moderna’s (MRNA) vaccine, which uses similar technology to Pfizer’s, is under review with the FDA as well and could be granted authorization in the coming days. The company first filed its request for emergency use authorization in late November, about one week after Pfizer’s request. The U.S. government on Friday said it doubled its orders of Moderna’s vaccine to 200 million.

Investors also hoped for more productive stimulus discussions in Washington this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, two of the leading negotiators of the deal, spoke in a half-hour phone call on Sunday and agreed to speak again on Monday, according to Pelosi’s spokesperson.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is set to unveil the specific language of a $908 billion relief package as soon as on Monday in the form of two separate bills, according to reports from outlets including Bloomberg and Reuters. One will include $748 billion in aid for small businesses, unemployed Americans and the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out – in other words, on issues that lawmakers of both parties largely agree are needed. The second bill will include provisions that have proved more divisive, including $160 billion for state and local governments, and liability protections for business.

Lawmakers have been trying to attach the virus relief package to the major omnibus government spending package for the fiscal year, which needs to get passed by the end of this week after lawmakers voted to extend last week’s deadline.

4:03 p.m. ET: S&P 500 falls for a fourth straight day as investors brace for more virus-related restrictions

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -16.05 (-0.44%) to 3,647.41

  • Dow (^DJI): -186.13 (-0.62%) to 29,860.24

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +62.17 (+0.50%) to 12,440.04

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.37 (+0.79%) to $46.94 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$12.30 (-0.67%) to $1,831.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.1 bps to yield 0.8920%

1:51 p.m. ET: Stocks turn mixed, Dow falls after hitting intraday record

The three major indices were mixed Monday afternoon, and the Dow erased earlier gains of well over 200 points to turn slightly negative. Shares of Disney and Chevron led declines in the 30-stock index.

The S&P 500 held just a tick over the flat line, as shares of consumer discretionary and information technology stocks outperformed. The Nasdaq jumped amid the rise in these tech-heavy sectors.

10:40 a.m. ET: Airbnb shares drop after Gordon Haskett double downgrades shares to Underperform

Shares of Airbnb (ABNB) sank more than 7% intraday Monday after research firm Gordon Haskett slashed its rating on the stock to Underperform. The firm initially had a Buy rating on the stock earlier this month ahead of Airbnb’s initial public offering.

“The valuation is more than stretched when compared to OTAs [online travel agencies,” Gordon Haskett analyst Robert Mollins said in a note Monday.”An overwhelming majority of investors we’ve spoken with have been unable to justify Airbnb’s valuation premium relative to OTAs and expressed interest in realizing their quick gains.”

Airbnb is trading at about 2.0 times the firm’s 2022 gross booking value estimate of $46 billion, or well ahead of the online travel agencies group average of 0.6 times, according to Mollins. This peer group includes companies like Booking Holdings (BKNG) and Expedia (EXPE).

“While we fully appreciate (1) the growth outperformance ABNB has seen relative to OTAs over the past several years and (2) that ABNB deserves a valuation premium (more resilient model in COVID backdrop, not exposed to merchant OTA cash flow headwinds, LT [long-term] levers to pull to continue double-digit GBV growth for 10+ years) – we can’t get behind a 300-400% valuation premium relative to OTAs (EV/GBV and EV/Sales),” Mollins said.

9:44 a.m. ET: New York state’s first COVID-19 vaccine administered at Long Island Jewish Medical Center

The first COVID-19 vaccine administered in New York state was to frontline worker Sandra Lindsay at Long Island Jewish Medical Center Monday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Twitter post.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +20.64 points (+0.56%) to 3,684.1

  • Dow (^DJI): +173.94 points (+0.58%) to 30,220.31

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +92.86 points (+0.74%) to 12,469.68

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.48 (+1.03%) to $47.05 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$7.90 (-0.43%) to $1,835.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.2 bps to yield 0.923%

7:46 a.m. ET: BMO Capital Markets downgrades Disney’s stock to Market Perform

BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon on Monday downgraded shares of Disney (DIS) to Market Perform from Outperform, noting that the stock may see more limited upside going forward after a jump following early vaccine news. Shares of the Dow component fell about 1% in early trading.

“We believe improved vaccination rates could help DIS continue to be a solid ‘re-opening’ play, but with considerable multiple expansion recently for both initial vaccine news and Thursday’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) investor day, we step to the sidelines and NFLX retakes the Top Pick mantle (followed still by GOOG and AMZN in large/mega cap),” Salmon wrote in a note.

“To be sure, the Disney+ sub forecasts surpassed the most bullish expectations, and were supported by an incredible amount of new content,” he added. “But our favorite ‘story’ stock closes out this recommended chapter between DTC investor days nevertheless.”

Disney on Thursday said it expected Disney+ subscribers to come in between 230 million to 260 million globally by 2024, up from about 86.8 million currently. While Disney+ and Disney’s other streaming services have grown strongly in 2020, the streaming unit has been unprofitable, adding to Disney’s red ink during a time when the pandemic has also dragged down business at the company’s theme parks and cruises. Disney expects the streaming service to turn a profit for the first time in 2024.

7:22 a.m. ET Monday: Stock futures point to a higher open

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:22 a.m. ET Thursday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,688.00, up 26.75 points or 0.73%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,264.00, up 231.00 points or 0.77%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,442.75, up 74.75 points or 0.6%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.51 (+1.1%) to $47.08 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$13.60 (-0.74%) to $1,830.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +3.4 bps to yield 0.925%

A Salvation Army volunteer dances in front of the New York Stock exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street on December 9, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
A Salvation Army volunteer dances in front of the New York Stock exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street on December 9, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

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