US stocks end lower as potential coronavirus treatments hit a roadblock 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a 4-day winning streak

Nasdaq building

4:05 pm: US stocks drop after strong Monday

US stocks fell as Congress and the White House wrangled over stimulus funding while some potential coronavirus treatments hit a roadblock. 

Both Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said they would pause ongoing trials due to safety concerns, which sent stocks down in late afternoon trading. 

After a strong Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 157 points, or 0.55%, to 28,79. The S&P 500 dropped 0.63% to 3,511 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost only 0.10% to 11,863.

12:20 pm: Dow down 100 at midday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 91 points, 0.3%, to 28,746.2, and the S&P 500 fell 10 points, 0.3%, to 3,523.8. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fared better, climbing 35 points, 0.3%, to 11,911.7.

"The S&P 500 is a touch lower in the wake of the decent gains that were posted yesterday, as dealers have grown weary of the back and forth in relation to the proposed Covid-19 stimulus package negotiations," CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden wrote. "The optimism in the broad market has faded for now, but the NASDAQ 100 is slightly higher, which is impressive given its strong rally last night."

Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) posted a $5.4 billion loss in its quarterly results this morning, and revenue fell 75% year-over-year to $3.06 billion, which fell short of $3.1 billion Street expectations.

The company saw its shares fall 3.2% to $31.59.

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9.40am: Wall Street starts mixed

The main indices on Wall Street were something of a mixed bag on Tuesday morning, with the Nasdaq the only one of the trio to log gains in the early minutes of trading.

Shortly after the opening bell, the tech-heavy index was up 0.29% at 11,903 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% to 28,756 and the S&P 500 dropped 0.13% to 3,529.

The Nasdaq appears to have been saved by some of its larger contingents, notably Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) ahead of its iPhone launch event and Amazon Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), which has kicked off its Prime Day sale.

Meanwhile, the third quarter earnings season continued to trundle on with figures from banking giant Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), which shortly before the open reported profits and revenues ahead of expectations as a result of stronger business from institutional clients as stabilization of credit costs.

7.55am: US indices to open mostly lower with Nasdaq the outlier

The third-quarter earnings season has kicked off in the US but investors seem more concerned with the status of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine trial.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is expected to give back 99 points of yesterday’s gains and open at around 28,740 while the S&P 500 is see kicking off four points lower at 3,530.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite, however, looks set to blaze its own trail (again) with a 310 point gain. According to Jasper Lawler at LCG, today’s launch of the first 5G iPhone as well as Amazon Prime Day “has got the juices flowing for tech investors”.

A pause in the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has taken the wind out of the sails of the bulls’ boats.

“Though a pause in a trial – this time due to ‘an unexplained illness in a study participant’ – isn’t exactly out of the ordinary, it still dealt a blow to the market’s faint, naïve hopes of a vaccine arriving this side of Christmas,” said Connor Campbell at Spreadex.

Johnson & Johnson is one of the companies releasing an earnings update today. The shares were off in pre-market trading despite the healthcare titan topping expectations with third-quarter adjusted earnings per share of US$2.20, versus expectations of US$1.98.

Investment bank JP Morgan Chase was another to beat the consensus forecast, with earnings per share of US$2.68 – 45 cents above the median forecast of analysts who follow the stock. The shares were little changed in pre-market trading.

Five things to watch for on Tuesday:

  • As mentioned, tech giant Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be holding a large amount of investor attention ahead of its iPhone launch event later today which is expected to see an appearance from its much touted 5G version of the iconic smartphone
  • Meanwhile, JP Morgan will also be in focus after the banking giant kicked off the US third quarter earnings season by beating estimates thanks to a jump in investment banking fees
  • Fellow big bank Citigroup will also be in focus as its own quarterly results are expected today ahead of a plethora of other financial giants later this week
  • Share price reaction will be eyed from Johnson & Johnson after it was forced to pause a trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate after one of its patients suffered an as yet unexplained illness
  • On the macro data front, US inflation data for September will be holding most of the attention. August’s figure of a 1.3% increase was ahead of the 1.2% forecast and higher than July’s figure of 1%. Consensus is forecasting last month’s figure will creep up to 1.5%

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