COVID-19 vaccine setback weighs on Wall Street

Another vaccine trial halt is sapping investor sentiment on Tuesday, which also marks the kick-off of earnings season and the unofficial start of the critical US holiday shopping season.

Investors have a deluge of news to digest on Tuesday, but once again, coronavirus concerns are dominating sentiment on Wall Street [File: Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

United States stock investors have plenty to gnaw on as the trading day kicks off on Wall Street.

News of a setback on a coronavirus vaccine candidate and reports of the first COVID-19 reinfection in the United States are sapping investor sentiment, while the official start of earnings season, the unofficial start of the US holiday shopping season, and Apple’s iPhone launch event are all moving markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 83.58 points at the open of trading on Wall Street or 0.29 percent at 28,753.94.

The S&P 500 – a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings accounts – opened down 0.03 percent.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index opened up 0.25 percent.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson were down more than two percent minutes into the trading session after the pharmaceutical giant said it had paused clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate due to an “unexplained illness” in a study participant.

Last month, AstraZeneca halted a late-stage trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate after a participant fell ill.

The news follows in the wake of more documented evidence that sheds doubt on whether herd immunity to COVID-19 is possible.

Researchers at the University of Nevada confirmed the first documented case of COVID-19 reinfection in the US – adding to the number of confirmed reinfection cases worldwide.

The findings, published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, also said that the 25-year-old Nevada man who was reinfected suffered a ‘more severe’ illness the second time around.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co were trading up 0.66 percent after the bank reported third-quarter earnings that bettered analysts’ expectations.

The biggest surprise for delighted investors, though, was that the biggest US bank had set aside a mere $611m in the third quarter as a cushion against soured loans compared to $10.5bn it had provisioned in the three months before that. The diminished loan-loss provision signals that the worst damage from the pandemic could be behind JPMorgan.

Shares of Delta Airlines were trading down 1.77 percent after the company reported another huge quarterly loss as the pandemic continues to gut air travel. The first major US carrier to report earnings, Delta said its revenue dropped 76 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier.

The firing gun started on the critical US holiday shopping season – unofficially – as Amazon kicked off its two-day Amazon Prime Day shopping event on Tuesday.  Shares of the retailing giant were trading up 0.071 percent.

And shares of Apple were down 1.04 percent ahead of the iPhone maker’s highly anticipated launch event on Tuesday.

Source: Al Jazeera