US Stocks Mixed as Bleak Private Jobs Data Weighs on Vaccine Hopes

by Warrior2

Any potential sign of a worsening labor market in Friday’s broader jobs report could put more pressure on Congress to agree on a stimulus package.

The major U.S. stock indexes finished mixed but mostly better on Wednesday with the benchmark S&P 500 Index posting a record high close, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite dipped as investors weighed promising vaccine developments and a potential coronavirus fiscal stimulus package against a gloomy private jobs report.

In the cash market on Wednesday, the S&P 500 Index settled at 3669.01, up 6.56 or +0.19%, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 29883.79, up 59.87 or +0.22% and the NASDAQ Composite Index ended at 12349.37, down 5.74 or -0.05%.Advertisement

Little Progress on New Fiscal Stimulus Relief

Republicans and Democrats in Congress remained unable to reach agreement on fresh relief for a pandemic-hit U.S. economy, although some investors said bad economic news could spur policy makers to push harder for a deal.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also expressed hope that a deal could be reached “in the next few days.”

Investors should note that this particular stimulus package is not likely to include a check for American citizens. That may come early next year after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

Getting a generous stimulus package through Congress is a top priority, Biden said in an interview with the New York Times. He also said he would not immediately cancel the Phase 1 trade deal that Trump struck with China.Advertisement

Vaccine Distribution Moves Forward

Signs of progress in the race to distribute a vaccine have driven U.S. stocks higher in recent days. In the latest upbeat development, Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine got the green light for use in Britain, the first Western country to approve a shot for COVID-19. Pfizer jumped 3.5% and BioNTech surged about 6%.

Positive updates on coronavirus vaccine have helped investors raise bets on a swift economic rebound next year, powering the S&P 500 and NASDAQ to record highs earlier in the week.

Dow Capped by Drop in Salesforce.com

The biggest drag on the blue-chip Dow was a near 9% drop in Salesforce.com Inc after it agreed to buy workspace messaging app Slack Technologies Inc in a $28 billion deal as it bets on an extended run for remote working. Slack fell about 2%.

In keeping with the theme of remote working, cloud data service provider NetApp Inc’s shares jumped over 10% after it forecast third-quarter profit above expectations.

Bleak Economic Outlook Offsetting Positive Vaccine Developments

Although investors remain optimistic about the success of the COVID-19 vaccine curtailing the spread of the coronavirus, they realize it is essentially a race against time with economic data showing the recovery slowing.

On Wednesday, data showed private payrolls increased less than expected in November, likely as soaring new infections and business restrictions hampered the labor market’s recovery.

Later in the session, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report showed “little or no growth” in four of the central bank’s 12 U.S. districts and only modest growth elsewhere in recent weeks.

The private sector jobs report puts greater emphasis on Friday’s U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls report. Any potential sign of a worsening labor market in Friday’s broader jobs report could put more pressure on Congress to agree on a stimulus package.

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