On Monday the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the NASDAQ Composite hit new all-time highs on what I’m calling the Vaccine Put, the hope that we’ll see the announcement of an approved coronavirus vaccine by early in 2021 or maybe even the end of 2020 or perhaps before the November elections. That would immediately lead Wall Street to mark up all those stocks suffering under the burden of lower sales due to the pandemic.
Today, new records again as the S&P 500 closed up 1.02%, the Dow Jones Industrials 0.30%, and the NASDAQ Composite 1.74% on speculation that new framework on monetary policy, due for revelation in Fed chairman Jerome Powell’s speech tomorrow at the virtual Jackson Hole conference will extend the period of 0% interest rates. And not just by a few months either. After the Fed’s June meeting, Wall Street concluded that the central bank would hold its benchmark interest rate near 0% for all of 2020, all of 2021, and most likely all of 2020. (The Fed didn’t make any projections for 2023 but it is likely to issue its first take on that year tomorrow.) Now Wall Street is speculating that the new policy framework–which would have the central bank saying that it would tolerate inflation above its 2% inflation target (in a kind of make-up for a lack of inflation in the current economy) without immediately raising benchmark rates.
Today’s speculation is that the Fed tomorrow will essentially say 0% rates through 2025.
Which is a big deal for financial assets–even if not for the real economy. That would presumably be so weak that the Fed would be looking to stimulate growth rather than rein in inflation.
So today stocks of companies that have demonstrated an ability to pull in revenue and pump out profits even in a weak economy moved up again. Strong.
You know most of the names. They’re the same big tech stocks that have soared this year and that have led the market upward. Apple (AAPL) was ahead 1.36% at the close. Microsoft (MSFT) finished up 2.16%. Alphabet (GOOG) gained 2.25%. Amazon (AMZN) climbed 2.85%. Facebook (FB) roared higher by 8.22%.
A few other stocks auditioned for membership in the very small growth group on big beats in quarterly earnings. For example, Salesforce (CRM) closed higher by 26.06% on a big earnings surge in yesterday’s quarterly report. Adobe (ADBE) finished up 9.10% on a hike in a price target. Intuit (INTU) climbed 4.45% on earnings that suggested the company wasn’t growing despite the coronavirus. Other stocks in the group of companies that Wall Street sees as coronavirus “resistant” gaining today were Veeva Systems (VEEV) up 3.31% and Twilio (TWLO) up 6.28%.
A few other “interesting” trends in today’s action.
Vaccine Put stocks, those dependent on the re-opening of the economy, didn’t fare all that well today with American Airlines (AAL) off 2.70%, Carnival (CCL) down 3.81%, and Six Flags (SIX) lower by 0.97%.
Gold was up–which would in most markets be a measure of heightened worry. Barrick Gold (GOLD) finished ahead by 2.26%. The SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GLD) closed up 1.20%.
And the VIX, the CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), which measures the prices that traders and investors are willing to pay to hedge risk in the S&P 500 over the the next month or so, climbed 5.63% to 23.27 at the close. The so-called fear index had been 2.18% lower at noon in New York.