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Markets Up on Sunny Holiday Outlook

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Market indexes happily churned along Monday with a favorable outlook on the latest positive test results from AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) and Oxford University, pointing to a post-pandemic world somewhat in sight next year. It follows the positive Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) -BioNTech (BNTX - Free Report) Covid vaccine results two Mondays ago and Moderna’s (MRNA - Free Report) positive results last week. One dosage regimen for the AstraZeneca drug also reported 90% efficacy, roughly in-line with the early reports from the other pharma companies.

Yet AstraZeneca stock took a 3.8% hit on the day, perhaps in that headline efficacy numbers averaged 70% — still an encouraging level based on historical vaccine trials — instead of the 90%+ levels of the competitors’ candidates. However, normal refrigeration capacity would be all that is needed for the AstraZeneca vaccine; unlike the others, it is not an mRNA treatment. It does not need to be subjected to the severely cold temperatures to keep the other vaccines intact.

So the market found favor in oilfield services giant Halliburton (HAL - Free Report) , up 9%, and American Airlines (AAL - Free Report) , also up 9%, on expected pent-up demand in fuel and travel to accelerate in 2021. Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) dropped 3% and 2.4%, respectively, on expectations that the “stay at home” model may perhaps be a tad overbought at this stage. The small-cap Russell 2000 led the way yet again, following three straight up weeks, +1.85% on the day. The Dow rose 1.12%, followed by the S&P 500 at +0.57%, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq +0.22% this Monday.

Also, President-elect Joe Biden announced he intends to nominate former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as his administration’s Treasury Secretary, satisfying Wall Streeters who may have feared Biden may have chosen a more anti-Wall Street economist like Senator Elizabeth Warren. By most accounts, Yellen’s tenure as the first-ever Fed Chair was a solid and transparent one. This news likely only helped push positive sentiment a tad further.

Finally, the National Retail Federation (NRF) announced it expects U.S. holiday shopping season to grow 5.2% year over year, based on some of the pent-up demand mentioned earlier. In addition, the pandemic period has turned American consumers into American savers; though they may not be able to see their loved ones over the holidays, spending on gifts looks to come in higher for the year.

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