Stocks surge as Pfizer offers hope with data on COVID vaccine candidate
The major averages were trading higher in early morning trading after Associated Press, CNBC, CNN and other major news organizations announced over the weekend that Democrat Joe Biden crossed 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania and defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. The move higher was greatly accelerated, though, after Pfizer (PFE) and partner BioNTech (BNTX) announced their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, was found to be over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in the first set of data released from their still-ongoing Phase 3 trial. Pfizer and BioNTech are continuing to accumulate safety data and currently estimate that a median of two months of safety data following the second and final dose of the vaccine candidate - the amount of safety data specified by the FDA in its guidance for potential Emergency Use Authorization - will be available by the third week of November, they noted.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., little economic data of note was reported. Meanwhile, German and Chinese trade data showed exports continued to improve.
Data from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering shows there are now 50.6M confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 9.99M in the U.S., and 1.26M deaths due to the disease, including about 238,000 in the U.S.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Pfizer and BioNTech are on the rise on Monday after the companies announced that their mRNA-based vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated evidence of efficacy against COVID-19. The announcement of signals of a vaccine efficacy rate above 90% has also given a boost to the broader market and a number of sectors that have been severely impacted by the pandemic, including airlines, cruise ship operators, theme park owners and film exhibiters.
McDonald's (MCD) reported sales and earnings that topped consensus forecasts, noting that global comparable sales declined 2.2%, but adding that monthly comparable sales results improved sequentially for all segments throughout the third quarter. McDonald's also unveiled its new "Accelerating the Arches" growth strategy, which includes plans to double down on digital, delivery and drive thru. McDonalds said it is planning to launch a new crispy chicken sandwich early next year and also confirmed development of McPlant, its own plant-based burger, which prompted a slide in shares of Beyond Meat (BYND).
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers after the Pfizer-BioNTech news were Eventbrite (EB), Park Hotels & Resorts (PK), and Hawaiian Holdings (HA), which rose 25%, 28%, and 37%, respectively. Also higher were Townsquare Media (TSQ) and Invesco Mortgage (IVR), which gained a respective 10% and 6% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Arcturus Therapeutics (ARCT), which dropped 45% after the company announced interim ARCT-021 study results.
Also lower was Biogen (BIIB), which fell 29% after announcing that the FDA Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee voted 0 yes, 10 no and 1 uncertain on the question of whether "it is reasonable to consider Study 302 as primary evidence of effectiveness of aducanumab for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease?"
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 1,192.23, or 4.21%, to 29,515.63, the Nasdaq was up 92.35, or 0.78%, to 11,987.58, and the S&P 500 was up 100.00, or 2.85%, to 3,609.44.