Stocks fell Friday as hopes faded on Wall Street that lawmakers in Washington will reach a stimulus agreement.
Having little positive effect on sentiment was news that the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech – the first Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S.- received the backing of an advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA said Friday it would “rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization” and said it has notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed “so they can execute their plans for timely vaccine distribution.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 144 points, or 0.49%, to 29,854, the S&P 500 declined 0.88% and the Nasdaq was down 1.2%. The three major stock market indexes were on track for a losing week.
Tesla declined following a downgrade from analysts at Jefferies.
Stocks didn’t get much of a boost from a surprising increase in consumer sentiment for December.
Walt Disney rose sharply Friday after the entertainment giant said it expects its streaming services – Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ – to have a combined 350 million subscribers in four years.
While Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate over a relief bill of around $900 billion, disagreements over shielding companies from virus-related lawsuits have stalled the deal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged lawmakers to drop aid for state and local governments and liability protections, and to proceed with a smaller bill without either, according to Bloomberg. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to reject that proposal, instead preferring to pause liability lawsuits in exchange for $160 billion in state aid floated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
“While the market seems to be already pricing in stimulus expectations, I fear reality might disappoint overly optimistic investors who are betting on another multi-trillion dollar stimulus package,” said Nancy Davis, portfolio manager of the Quadratic Interest Rate Volatility and Inflation Hedge exchange-traded fund .
Pfizer traded lower Friday after the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech won approval Thursday from a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee, with the full FDA likely to act quickly to roll out the vaccine.
The committee’s recommendation to approve an emergency use authorization for the vaccine passed 17 to 4, with one abstention.
The FDA is expected to grant the authorization for emergency use on Saturday, The New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the agency’s planning. Distribution in the U.S. could begin within 24 hours, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. First priority for the vaccine will go to healthcare workers and nursing home residents.
The approval from the FDA panel comes as the U.S. has had 292,611 people die from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. Infections in the country have risen to 15.65 million.
This article was originally published by TheStreet.