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Nov 18, 2020

U.S. stocks edge lower; dollar sinks to two-year low

BNN Bloomberg's closing bell update: November 18, 2020

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U.S. stocks slumped as fresh restrictions to curtail the spread of coronavirus overshadowed signs that scientists are making fast progress toward a vaccine. The dollar held near its lowest level in two years.

The S&P 500 Index closed at its lows of the day after New York City shut schools because of rising infections. Pfizer Inc. advanced after saying that its COVID-19 vaccine was 95 per cent effective, paving the way for the company to apply for the first U.S. regulatory authorization for a coronavirus shot within days. Lowe’s Cos Inc. slumped after earnings trailed analysts’ expectations, while Target Corp. advanced on soaring sales.

Cryptocurrency mania continued its comeback, with Bitcoin surging past US$18,000 for the first time since December 2017 before erasing its advance.

After gains that pushed stocks to record highs earlier this week, money managers remained focused on the latest coronavirus data showing disturbingly high infection rates in Europe and the U.S. Wednesday marked the first time the S&P 500 had dropped for two consecutive days since late October.

“Investors are taking a well-earned timeout after the news of the last couple weeks saw sentiment surge to levels that suggested excessive optimism,” said Adam Phillips, director of portfolio strategy at EP Wealth Advisors. “Progress toward a vaccine is promising and suggests a light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s no telling for sure how long that tunnel is.”

Elsewhere, equity gauges closed green across Europe. The pound continued its advance amid hopes of a Brexit deal and data showing stronger-than-expected inflation. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 1.1 per cent after Tokyo reported a record number of new COVID-19 infections, but overall Asian stocks were slightly higher on the day.

Here are some events to watch out for this week:

  • Brexit talks look set to continue as the U.K. and EU approach the latest deadline.
  • Bloomberg New Economy Forum virtually convenes global leaders to discuss trade, growing political populism, climate change, and the pandemic. Through Nov. 19.
  • Bank Indonesia rate decision Thursday.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index fell 1.2 per cent at 4 p.m. New York time.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.4 per cent.
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.1 per cent.
  • The MSCI Emerging Market Index climbed 0.4 per cent.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed.
  • The euro fell 0.1 per cent to US$1.1854.
  • The British pound rose 0.2 per cent to US$1.3269.
  • The Japanese yen strengthened 0.3 per cent to 103.86 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose two basis points to 0.87 per cent.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield rose one basis point to -0.56 per cent.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield rose one basis point to 0.33 per cent.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.6 per cent to US$41.69 a barrel.
  • Gold fell 0.6 per cent to US$1,869.54 an ounce.

--With assistance from Joanna Ossinger, Todd White and Anchalee Worrachate.

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