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Stock Market News for Nov 20, 2020

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U.S. stock markets closed higher on Thursday on hopes of restarting of Congressional negotiations for a fresh tranche of fiscal stimulus. However, the gains were contained by market participants' concerns on rising new infections of coronavirus. All the three major stock indexes ended in positive territory.

How Did The Benchmarks Perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 0.2% to close at 29,483.23. Notably, 18 components of the 30-stock index ended in the green while 12 in red. Moreover, the Nasdaq Composite finished at 11,904.71, advancing 0.9% or 103.11 points due to strong performance by technology stocks.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 gained  0.4% to end at 3,581.87. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) surged 1.6% while the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) declined 1%. Notably, nine out of eleven sectors of the benchmark index closed in the green and two in red.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was down 3.1% to 23.11. A total of 10.94 billion shares were traded on Thursday, higher than the last 20-session average of 10.44 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.77-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.80-to-1 ratio favored advancing issues.

Fresh Initiative for a News Coronavirus-Aid Package

Senate Minority leader Democrat Chuck Schumer said that Senate Majority leader Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has agreed to resume negotiations over a potential new Covid-19 relief package. Earlier this week, the Trump administration has decided not to negotiate further with Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding a new stimulus. Instead, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell will be the Republican negotiator, who is well known for his tough stand on a new tranche of coronavirus-relief package.

Positive News on COVID-19 Vaccine Development

On Nov 19, AstraZeneca plc (AZN - Free Report) said that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by the Oxford University showed robust immune response in older adults in phase 2 clinical trial. AstraZeneca carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Meanwhile, on Nov 18, Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) and BioNTech SE (BNTX - Free Report) announced that their jointly developed potential vaccine BNT162b2 was more than 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in trial participants with no previous evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 infection. These two companies are planning to submit for Emergency Use Authorization to the FDA in next few days.

On Nov 16, Moderna Inc. (MRNA - Free Report) reported that the preliminary phase III clinical trial data revealed its potential coronavirus vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing COVID-19. The study was conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. On Nov 10, the FDA had granted emergency authorization to a COVID-19 antibody treatment of Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY - Free Report) .

Economic Data

The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims increased by a seasonally adjusted 31,000 to 742,000 for the week ended Nov 14, marking the first increase in weekly jobless claims after four-straight weeks of decline. The consensus estimate was 705,000. Previous week's claims were revised upward 709,000 reported earlier to 711,000.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, which eliminates volatility in the numbers, decreased 13,750 to 742,00. Continuing claims (persons who are already receiving unemployment benefits) dropped 429,000 to 6.37 million, marking  a fresh pandemic-era low.

National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales in October increased 4.3% to 6.85 million units, surpassing the consensus estimate of 6.45 million units. September's data was revised upward from 6.54 million units to 6.57 million units. Year over year, existing home sales jumped 26.6% in October.

Stocks That Have Made Headline

Wells Fargo Offers Secure Virtual Card Payments System

Wells Fargo & Company (WFC - Free Report) recently introduced a new virtual payment system to ensure smooth transactions for its corporate customers, as due to the pandemic demand for online payment modes has increased drastically. (Read More)

UBS Group AG to Pay Full 2019 Dividend Amid COVID-19 Crisis

On Thursday, UBS Group AG (UBS - Free Report) became the first European bank to pay the full-year dividend for 2019 after receiving the approval of majority shareholders. (Read More)

5 Stocks Set to Double

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