Dow Moves Higher as Senate Passes Bill to Avert Government Shutdown

Stocks turned mixed Friday as the Senate passed a one-week spending bill that would avert a partial government shutdown that was to have begun at midnight.

The bill, already approved by the House, was sent to President Trump for his signature.

Equities, however, remained on track for a losing week as hopes faded on Wall Street that lawmakers in Washington will reach a stimulus agreement as coronavirus cased surged across the U.S.

Having little positive effect on sentiment was news that the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer  (PFE) – Get Report and BioNTech  (BNTX) – Get Report – 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.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor dining restrictions in the nation’s largest city will be reinstated indefinitely on Monday as infections and hospitalizations surge in the city and the state.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 70 points, or 0.13%, to 30,036, the S&P 500 declined 0.31% and the Nasdaq was down 0.54%. 

Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Report 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  (DIS) – Get Report 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  (IVOL) – Get Report.

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.