Stimulus Uncertainty Caps Wall Street; Disney Climbs

The major U.S. stock indexes closed mixed on Friday with the benchmark S&P 500 and tech-based NASDAQ Composite posting modest declines, while strong gains from Walt Disney helped the blue chip Dow Industrials eke out a gain.  Meanwhile, helping to limit gains all around was uncertainty over fresh stimulus which dented consumer confidence.

In the cash market on Friday, the S&P 500 Index settled at 3663.46, down 4.64 or -0.14%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 30046.37, up 47.11 or +0.17% and the NASDAQ Composite ended at 12377.87, down 27.94 or -0.25%.

Rising COVID-19 Cases Leads to More Restrictions

With daily coronavirus death tolls at alarming levels, fresh business restrictions in many U.S. states and increasing layoffs, investors are counting on more fiscal relief to sustain a nascent economic recovery as most government aid has dried up.

Another 2,902 U.S. deaths were reported on Thursday, a day after a record 3,253 people died, a pace projected to continue for the next two to three months even with a rapid rollout of inoculations.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday suspended indoor dining in New York City, effective Monday.

FDA Emergency Use Authorization

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine expected as soon as Friday evening the New York Time reported.

The U.S. drugmaker’s shares, however, gave up early gains and closed 1.46% lower.

Uncertainty over Fresh Economic Stimulus Dents Consumer Confidence

The U.S. Senate, facing a midnight deadline on Friday, unanimously approved a one-week extension of federal funding to avoid a government shutdown and to provide more time to separate negotiations on COVID-19 relief and an overarching spending bill.

Lawmakers have wrangled for months over fresh fiscal stimulus package to support an economy battered by coronavirus lockdowns.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday raised the possibility of stimulus negotiations dragging on through Christmas.

US Economic News

A gauge of U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly increased in early December to the second-highest level since March, amid prospects for a vaccine coming soon to tame the pandemic.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index rose 4.5 points to 81.4, from a final November reading of 76.9, according to figures Friday that topped all estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists. The median projection was 76.

In other news, at 48.1, American consumer confidence for December 2020 has dropped more than four points (-4.4) since last month, according to the Refinitiv/Ipsos Primary Consumer Sentiment Index.

Stock News:  Disney Jumps, Qualcomm Dumps

Walt Disney Co shares were the biggest boost to the Dow and S&P 500, surging 13.59% after the media company announced a heavy slate of new shows for its streaming services and said it expects as many as 350 million global subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024.

Qualcomm Inc slumped 7.36% and was among the top decliners on the benchmark S&P 500, following a Bloomberg New report that Apple Inc has started building its own cellular modem for future devices, a move that would replace components from the chipmaker.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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James Hyerczyk

James A. Hyerczyk has worked as a fundamental and technical financial market analyst since 1982. His technical work features the pattern, price and time analysis techniques of W.D. Gann.