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Vaccine news sent Dow soaring, Gold crumbling

10 November 2020

Markets were triggered into massive moves on news that Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have a Covid-19 vaccine that can prevent over 90 percent of infections. The elation was a punch in the gut for Gold, which is deemed a traditional safe haven asset. Bullion prices sank before finding support around the $1850 region, a support level that has proven reliable since September. Still, the precious metal’s 4.53 percent drop yesterday was its worst single-day performance since August 11th.

Investors were also quick to shed tech megacaps that had propelled US indices higher throughout the pandemic, in favour of real-economic sectors that could benefit from this vaccine. Perhaps the contrast was starkest when comparing the performances of Zoom, a lockdown darling, and the US Global Jets ETF, which tracks aviation-related stocks. Zoom plummeted by 17.37 percent on Monday, while the Jets ETF soared by 16.11 percent.

The rotation was also evident among benchmark stock indices: the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index declined by 2.16 percent while the Dow Jones index soared by almost three percent to close in on the 30,000 psychologically-important mark. However, the Dow’s bid for a new record high closing price might have to wait a bit longer, given that the futures contracts for the Dow are now dipping slightly, indicating shallow declines at the US markets’ open on Tuesday.

This rotation might give fresh legs to the bull run in US stocks, which are still basking in the glow of a Joe Biden win, or more specifically, the thought of a divided US government. With the S&P 500 now a mere 30 points away from matching its highest ever closing price, which was registered on September 2nd, the recovery in other economic sectors beyond good ol’ tech could propel these benchmark indices to new record highs in the near future.

But just as President-elect Biden reiterated his warning of a “dark winter” ahead for the US, so too must we be cognizant of potential downside risks for equities. Though still reveling in the passing US election risks, investors are already refocusing on fiscal stimulus talks. And even though a fresh round of financial support from the US government is unlikely to be passed during the lame-duck Congress session, investors are already wary that the eventual deal wouldn’t be as big as hoped for. This could threaten the still-nascent recovery in the US economy, and potentially cap the upside for US equities, especially those in the real economy.

And the political brinksmanship could drag on until January, when a pair of run-offs in Georgia could then dictate whether Democrats will have enough muscle through the chambers of Congress to push their agenda. If proven so, that could prompt a shudder through US equities further down the line, as investors brace for higher taxes and heightened regulations which have been typically associated with the Democrats’ political platform.



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