Stocks Climb as Vaccine Hope Tempers Lockdown Fear

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

Stocks climbed and bonds tumbled after a large-scale coronavirus vaccine study delivered the most-promising results in the battle against the worst pandemic in a century, tempering concern over tougher lockdowns.

Equities pared gains as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Donald Trump is “100% within his rights” to investigate any possible voting irregularities and request recounts in the presidential race and has no obligation to accept media projections that Joe Biden won. The Federal Reserve warned that asset prices in key markets could take a hit if the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact worsens in coming months. The S&P 500 still closed at a two-month high amid strong trading volume on news the coronavirus shot being developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE prevented over 90% of infections. The Nasdaq 100 fell amid a selloff in giants such as Inc. and Netflix Inc.

Meanwhile, several block sales in 10-year Treasury futures added fuel to the pressure on notes, with the benchmark rate soaring to the highest since March. A measure of credit-market risk eased to pre-pandemic levels, and junk-rated companies hit the market in droves to take advantage of a plunge in borrowing costs. Oil surged, while gold, the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc slumped. The dollar rose.

Investors pulled out of haven assets and poured cash into markets that are closely tied to economic growth, with the value of the MSCI All Country Index jumping by as much as $1.8 trillion after the latest vaccine developments. President-elect Biden announced a new coronavirus task force as his transition team seeks to fulfill a campaign promise to develop a dramatically different approach than President Trump’s to contain the outbreak. He warned of a “dark winter” and many more deaths as the pandemic continues to spread unabated. The top infectious disease expert in the U.S. Anthony Fauci said the shot being developed by Pfizer will have a “major impact” on everything we do with regards to Covid-19 going forward.

“The bull market has a ton of ammunition to keep going,” said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investing product at E*Trade Financial. “With more certainty around the election, a strong quarter of earnings across many sectors, and extremely positive news on the vaccine front, there is little to hold us back.”

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar-yen cross -- a commonly watched risk barometer -- surged by most since June. The Turkish lira soared after the resignation of the country’s economy czar and the dismissal of the central bank chief.

These are some key events coming up:

  • Alibaba holds its annual Singles’ Day on Wednesday, an online global shopping phenomenon that had $38 billion of sales last year

  • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell are among the speakers Thursday at an online ECB Forum entitled “Central Banks in a Shifting World”

  • Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 hold an extraordinary meeting Friday to discuss bolder action to help poor nations struggling to repay their debts.

These are some of the main moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 jumped 1.2% as of 4 p.m. New York time.

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index surged 4%.

  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.5%.

  • The MSCI Emerging Market Index increased 1.4%.


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gained 0.3%.

  • The euro fell 0.4% to $1.183.

  • The Japanese yen depreciated 2% to 105.41 per dollar.


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed 13 basis points to 0.95%.

  • Germany’s 10-year yield climbed 11 basis points to -0.51%.

  • Britain’s 10-year yield jumped 10 basis points to 0.372%.


  • The Bloomberg Commodity Index dipped 0.1%.

  • West Texas Intermediate crude surged 8.3% to $40.21 a barrel.

  • Gold depreciated 4.2% to $1,868.50 an ounce.


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