The final week of trading for the month of May kicks off this Tuesday morning, with futures way up, following a relatively robust week in the markets ahead of Memorial Day Weekend. Without much in the way of pressing economic news, the Dow has raced ahead 580 points at this hour, the Nasdaq is up 150 and the S&P 500 is +60. The Nasdaq now stands 5% below its all-time market highs, recorded this past February.
Chief among positives for the market is a new vaccine candidate for COVID-19 from Novavax (NVAX), which is launching its human trials in Australia, where 131 people with coronavirus will take an injection of the vaccine. Novavax will be looking at safety concerns as well as efficacy. This candidate joins roughly a dozen others in early stages of clinical testing, from China to Europe. Novavax is headquartered in Maryland. For more on this story, click here.
While no one expects a COVID-19 vaccine on the market by this summer, the advancements made by these drug companies since the pandemic led to economic shutdowns the world over have been inspiring. And treatments to keep the coronavirus severity at a minimum, such as Gilead’s (GILD) remdesivir, have shown some promise as well. Thus far, COVID-19 has infected over 5.6 million people the world over, with more than 1.7 million cases in the U.S., along with just about 100,000 domestic fatalities.
So while the U.S. economy continues to reopen, once these measures are in place to keep this nasty virus from killing us, we’ll all be able to breathe a sigh of release at last. The market is apparently pricing this into the market right now.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for April showed a downward swoop this morning — not unexpected, considering the 3rd largest city in the U.S. has been on lockdown for the past 8 weeks or so. A headline of economic indicators came in at -16.74, down from the revised-lower read from March, which was down 4.97. This is far and away the lowest level ever recorded, taking out December 1974’s -3.67.
The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for March came in a tad hotter than the previous month, at +4.4%. The 10-City composite posted gains of 3.4%, above the 3.0% for February. The 20-City rose to 3.9% from 3.5% the previous month. Much of this is seasonality; spring months are typically stronger markets for home-buying. But it’s nice to see some positives in economic data for a change. Phoenix saw the highest price gains for the month at 8.2%, followed by Seattle at 6.9% and Charlotte 5.8%.
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