Stocks end lower ahead of U.S. presidential debate
Stocks pulled back a bit following two sessions of big gains as investors took to the sidelines ahead of tonight's first debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Meanwhile, House Democrats have proposed $2.2T in coronavirus relief and reports indicate that a Republican stimulus counteroffer will be in the "$1.5T neighborhood."
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the advance indicators report revealed a widening in the goods trade deficit to an $82.9B all-time in August. The S&P Case/Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 0.6% to 226.6 in July. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index soared 15.5 points to a six-month high of 101.8 in September, which was much stronger than expected.
Data from the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering shows there are now 33.4M confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 7.15M in the U.S., and 1M deaths due to the disease, including about 205,000 in the U.S.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted earlier that of the 88,231 tests reported yesterday in the state, 1,189 were positive, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city's daily positive test rate rose back above 3% for the first time in months.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said in a press conference from the White House yesterday afternoon that the federal government plans to distribute 150 million Abbott (ABT) rapid point-of-care tests in the coming weeks. In his remarks, the president said "as we do more tests, you’re going to have automatically more cases," but "this should not cause undue alarm."
After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats had introduced a new $2.2T COVID-19 stimulus package last night, Politico reported that the Republicans' counteroffer on a stimulus package is expected to be in the neighborhood of $1.5T. The two sides are still nearly $1T apart, noted Politico's Jake Sherman.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Beyond Meat (BYND) rose 9.5% after the company announced an expansion in its relationship with Walmart (WMT), with the latter planning to triple availability of the Beyond Burger in its stores beginning next week.
In other COVID-19 news, the NFL announced that the Tennessee Titans will suspend in-person club activities after COVID testing results returned three new player positives and five new personnel positives. The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, will also suspend in-person club activities, the league stated. Several stocks in the sports betting group - which includes Caesars (CZR), DraftKings (DKNG), MGM Resorts (MGM), Penn National (PENN), William Hill (WIMHY) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - moved lower following the NFL news.
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) announced that the firm has entered into agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to resolve investigations into historical trading practices by former employees in the precious metals and U.S. treasuries markets. In connection with the agreements, the firm will pay a total of approximately $920M and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ.
Building on the SPAC fervor that has gripped the market in recent months, two more companies came public today via mergers with such "blank check" vehicles. AppHarvest, which operates one of the largest high-tech greenhouses in the world and said it has a pipeline for future large-scale indoor farm projects, agreed to a business combination with Novus Capital (NOVS) that would result in AppHarvest becoming a public company. Meanwhile, LifeSci Acquisition and Vincera Pharma announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for a business combination. Vincera sees "the flexibility of being a publicly listed company" helping it to accelerate the growth of a pipeline currently driven by an exclusive option to license agreement with Bayer (BAYRY) for an oncology portfolio as well as a preclinical bioconjugation platform "developed to overcome the limitations of antibody and small molecule drug conjugates."
Meanwhile, General Motors (GM) told Reuters in a statement that its transaction with Nikola (NKLA) has not yet closed. "We are continuing our discussions with Nikola (NKLA) and will provide further updates when appropriate or required," a GM spokeswoman told Reuters. That statement followed a report from Dawn Kopecki and Michael Wayland of CNBC that two women have filed sexual assault allegations with Utah authorities against Nikola founder Trevor Milton, accusing him of sexual abuse.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Aptorum Group (APM), which skyrocketed 290% higher after announcing the launch of Aptorum Innovations, an infectious disease liquid biopsy diagnostics subsidiary. Also higher was AngioDynamics (ANGO), which rose 19.4% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Myovant Sciences (MYOV), which slid 25.5% after it said that relugolix did not achieve statistical superiority for castration resistance-free survival compared to leuprolide acetate in men with metastatic disease through 48 weeks in the Phase 3 HERO study. Also lower was United Natural Foods (UNFI), which fell 14.2% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 131.40, or 0.48%, to 27,452.66, the Nasdaq lost 32.28, or 0.29%, to 11,085.25, and the S&P 500 declined 16.13, or 0.48%, to 3,335.47.