The S&P 500 registered a strong week of gains as investors grew increasingly optimistic about a potential COVID-19 vaccine and state-by-state measures to reopen the economy.
On Monday, the market got off to a hot start after American biotech company Moderna reported positive early-stage trial data for its coronavirus vaccine candidate. The company said it plans to begin Phase II testing of the vaccine in July and could have it commercially available in early 2021.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the federal budget deficit will grow to $2.2 trillion in fiscal 2020 and said U.S. GDP will drop by 38% in the second quarter. The Labor Department reported another 2.44 million jobless claims for the week ending May 16, bringing the total number of filings during the COVID-19 outbreak to more than 38 million.
On Wednesday, shares of Chinese companies dropped after the Senate passed a bill that could ban Chinese stocks from trading on U.S. exchanges unless they can certify that they are “not owned or controlled by a foreign government.” The bill would also require all U.S.-listed Chinese stocks to have auditors that have been inspected by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board for at least three consecutive years.
The Wall Street Journal reported that all 50 states are taking measures to restart their economies. The U.S. now has more than 1.55 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 93,000 deaths.
Retail earnings winners: L Brands, Lowe’s
Shares of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands gained more than 30% and home improvement giant Lowe’s gained 15% after the two companies reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.
This week, investors will be watching for reports from AutoZone on Tuesday and HP, Toll Brothers and Ralph Lauren on Wednesday.
The forward earnings multiple for the S&P 500 is currently 20.3, about 34% above its 10-year average, according to FactSet.
Economic numbers to watch for: 1Q GDP
On Thursday, investors will be watching preliminary estimates of first-quarter U.S. GDP growth from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the latest weekly U.S. jobless claims from the Department of Labor.
“I think there’s a little bit of a sense that the [economy] reopening is more tangible,” said Shawn Cruz, manager of trader strategy at TD Ameritrade. “I’m on the side of maybe it’s time to rotate out of the “stay at home” names and start taking profits and looking for the, I call them “real economy” companies. So start looking at financials, industrials, and energy.”
Benzinga is a financial news and data company headquartered in Detroit.
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