US Shares Edge Higher Despite Record Virus Cases In California, Texas & Arizona

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed higher on Wednesday on the first day of the third quarter, ignoring a worsening of the latest wave of COVID-19 infections that saw California close all bars and inside dining, Florida report another record number of cases and New York halt the start of a return to inside dining.

Instead, traders grasped the increasing optimism for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine that isn’t even approaching the stage where it can be used.

Pfizer Inc’s shares rose more than 3% after the drugmaker said vaccine being developed with German biotech firm BioNTech showed promise and was found to be well-tolerated in early-stage human trials.

With the long-awaited US jobs data report for June out tonight, our time (market forecasts suggest four million new jobs, or rather four million old jobs refilled), the Wall Street ended on the up – except for the Dow which lost more than 70 points as Boeing shares fell for a second day after the 14% jump on Monday.

Gold sold off heavily, oil rose though, iron ore weakened and copper rose.

The Dow fell 77.91 points, or 0.3%, to 25,734.97 but the S&P 500 added 15.57 points, or 0.50%, to end at 3,115.86 while the Nasdaq added 95.86 points, or 0.95%, to close at 10,154.63.

That saw the ASX 24 futures add 37 points at 7 am Sydney time, indicating a solid start to trading later this morning.

A survey of US manufacturing found a sharp improvement in activity – jumping to a reading of 52.6 last month from 43.1 in May and ending three straight months of contraction, or readings below 50.

Besides ignoring the worsening in the latest wave of coronavirus cases, investors also ignored Apple’s move to close more stores in the US, taking the number shut to 77.

Apple said it would re-close more than two dozen stores in seven states starting on Thursday, including its home state of California.

The stores will close in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, and Oklahoma in addition to stores that have already closed in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah.

Comex gold futures meanwhile settled with a loss on Wednesday after topping $US1,800 on Tuesday a near nine-year high.

August gold futures lost $US20.60, or 1.1%, to settle at $US1,779.90 an ounce after trading as high as $US1,807.70 overnight.

A day earlier, it hit the highest finish, at $US1,800.50, for a most-active contract since September. 2011. In August 2011, gold futures settled at a record $US1,891.90.

Comex September silver, shed 42 cents, or nearly 2.3%, to end at $US18.218 an ounce.

Also on Comex, September copper futures ended the day up 0.2% at $US2.734 a pound.

Iron ore eased with the price of Metal Bulletin 62% Fe fines delivered to northern China down 26 cents at $US99.17 a tonne.

The Australian dollar was trading at just over 69 US cents.

Meanwhile, oil futures ended higher on Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the largest weekly decline in domestic crude inventories so far this year.

The EIA reported that US oil stocks fell by 7.2 million barrels for the week ended June 26. That followed three consecutive weeks of increases.

That saw West Texas Intermediate crude for August rise 55 cents, or 1.4%, to settle at $US39.82 a barrel in New York. Brent oil for September futures picked up 76 cents, or 1.8%, to $US42.03 in Europe.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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