S&P 500, Dow Finish Lower; NASDAQ-100 Lifted by Drugmakers on M&A News

The major U.S. stock indexes finished mixed but mostly lower as investors assessed the prospects for a fiscal spending package and the likelihood for further virus-related economic restrictions.

The benchmark S&P 500 Index fell for a fourth day, capping its longest price slide since September and is 1.5% below its December 8 record. The blue chip Dow closed lower after hitting a record high, weighed down by a big loss in shares of Disney.

The NASDAQ-100 Index bucked the trend, led by strong gains in the drugmaker sub-sector. The move was fueled by the news that Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to be bought by AstraZeneca Plc.

In the cash market on Monday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3647.49, down 15.97 or -0.47%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 29861.55, down 184.82 or -0.67% and the tech-weighted NASDAQ Composite closed at 12440.04, up 62.17 or +0.56%.

Vaccine Reaction

Administration of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech began on Monday following emergency-use approval from federal regulators last week.

“While the entire market is pleased, is optimistic, is bullish about the arrival of the vaccine this morning into the U.S., I think the average investor is realizing that this roll-out, this distribution of the vaccine is not going to be a silver bullet, is not going to go as fast as one hopes,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Other News Worth Watching

Investors were also eyeing the outlook for additional coronavirus relief after the Senate last week approved a one-week extension of federal funding to void a government shutdown and allow more time for negotiations.

Investors were also focused on early voting in a pair of U.S. Senate races in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber and heavily influence lawmaking.

Stock-Related News

E-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd dipped after China warned its internet majors of more anti-trust scrutiny, imposed fines and announced probes into deals involving Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc rallied as anticipation of its addition to the S&P 500 benchmark next week offset a report of production delays.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc was among the top boosts to the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ, surging to a 4-1/2 year high after British drugmaker AstraZeneca said it would buy the U.S. biotech firm. AstraZeneca’s U.S.-listed shares dropped.

Walt Disney shares fell 3.65% after BMO Capital Markets downgraded the stock following its recent gains and said Netflix was again its “top pick.” Netflix climbed almost 4%.

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