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Vaccine Stocks Adjust, Markets Await Jobs Numbers

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Market indexes lost some air out of the balloon during today’s final stretch into the close, as supply chain issues reported at Pfizer PFE regarding its Covid-19 vaccine tell investors the amount of initial doses available will be about half of what some were estimating: 50 million versus 100 million. The company itself has remained fairly consistent in its distribution guidance, however; this looks be be another example of hopeful exuberance getting investors believing something that isn’t quite true.

That’s not to suggest there was anything dire or even damaging at all to Thursday’s trading tally; in fact, the Nasdaq set a fresh all-time closing high once again, +0.23% on the day. The Dow even performed a little better, +0.29%, whereas the small-cap Russell 2000 rose 0.58% to top all major indexes. Only the S&P, which dipped a toe into the red in the final moments of regular trading, -0.06% on the day.

There are no systemic problems with anything related to vaccine availability overall. To the contrary, with Pfizer taking a short step backwards, Moderna MRNA buyers moved right into the fray, rising 10% on the day by the closing bell. As data winds through the process ahead of the actual business of immunizing Americans from the coronavirus, some juts and tweaks to stocks prices here and there are just the normal part of investors settling on valuations.

Earlier today, after the market opened, two new reads on Services sector production were released: Markit Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and Institute of Supply Management (ISM) Services, both for November, were narrowly mixed from expectations: Markit Services PMI hit its highest read all year at 58.4, representing the steepest expansion since March 2015. ISM, meanwhile, posted a slightly lower 55.9% (from expectations of 56.4% and October’s 56.6%), but made it six straight months of positive growth.

Markit PMI posted its fastest increase in new orders in more than 2 1/2 years, with the strongest Services employment growth since October 2009. ISM Services prices paid rose to an 8-year high: 66.1%, while employment bounced to 51.5%, narrowly escaping contraction territory for the month. Services are obviously a very big deal to the domestic economy overall; Wednesday’s report for ADP private-sector new jobs numbers last month demonstrated 89% of those new jobs came from Services.

Tomorrow morning is the final Employment Situation report of 2020. Estimates on the headline range from 430-440K, with the Unemployment Rate expected to have dropped another 10 basis points to 6.8%. Average Hourly Earnings are expected to have risen only sluggishly, suggesting most new jobs gleaned last month will have been on the lower level side. Will these figures do much to potentially sway markets in early trading? Not nearly as much as a new stimulus package would do to bolster expectations.

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