Stocks Poised for Modest Weekly Gains

By Avantika Chilkoti and Alexander Osipovich

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked higher Friday as investors brushed off worries about a fresh wave of coronavirus infections and its impact on the economic recovery.

The blue-chip index advanced 157 points, or 0.6%, in late-morning trading, after a wobbly start. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 rose 0.2%, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 0.2%.

All three indexes are poised to close the week with gains. So far, investors have largely dismissed concerns about the impact of a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections. New coronavirus cases in the U.S. repeatedly hit fresh records this week.

Still, the market has remained jittery. Asian stocks sold off sharply, briefly sending investors rushing to seek shelter in government bonds.

The yield on the 30-year Treasury fell as low as 1.248%, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury touched 0.570%, their lowest levels in more than two months. They recovered after the U.S. stock market opened, and were recently at 1.292% and 0.606%, respectively.

"At some stage you accept the reality that Covid hasn't gone away, that it's going to have an impact on all economies in terms of social distancing until we have a vaccine," said Brian O'Reilly, head of market strategy for Mediolanum International Funds.

Still, markets have been resilient in part because investors expect further support from the U.S. Federal Reserve if the pandemic begins to slow the economy again, said Scott Martin, chief investment officer of Kingsview Wealth Management.

"The market is still largely addicted to stimulus," Mr. Martin said. "Markets are able to take the coronavirus news in stride because of this backstop."

Energy and financials were the S&P 500's best performers on Friday, rising 2.1% and 1.8%, respectively. Energy stocks getting a boost from an uptick in oil prices. U.S. crude futures rose 1.4% to $40.19 a barrel.

Technology stocks in the S&P 500, which have performed strongly this year, slumped, falling 0.4%.

BioNTech, a German biotech firm that has partnered with Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine, rallied after its chief executive told The Wall Street Journal that early data for its vaccine was promising and it could seek regulatory approval by the end of the year. American depositary receipts of BioNTech were recently up 6%.

Overseas, European stocks posted gains, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index up 0.9%. Asian markets were mostly lower as China's recent market rally lost steam.

In China a streak of stock market gains ended Friday, with the Shanghai Composite Index closing nearly 2% lower. It had risen 16.5% over eight straight sessions of gains, the biggest eight-day percentage gain since March 2008, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Perhaps seeking to avoid a repeat of the stock market bubble and bust of 2015, Chinese authorities have signaled concerns about overshooting, with a state-run financial newspaper stressing the importance of long-term investment.

Friday's fall may have been propelled by actions by state-owned investors. Filings showed that big players such as the National Council for Social Security Fund had unloaded stocks, according to Alvin Ngan, strategist at Zhongtai International Holdings, a Hong Kong-based brokerage.

"The cooling tone from the authorities could take some of the sheen off the frenetic market, " he said.

Xie Yu contributed to this article.

Write to Avantika Chilkoti at Avantika.Chilkoti@wsj.com and Alexander Osipovich at alexander.osipovich@dowjones.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  07-10-20 1156ET
  Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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