Last week started on a positive note with Moderna being among the latest companies to announce encouraging interim Phase 1 data for a covid-19 vaccine candidate. The company, which is partnering with the National Institutes of Health, said that its candidate, mRNA-1273, is likely to enter Phase 3 trials in June subject to earlier trial results. Although Moderna did not disclose any critical data to assess the vaccine’s effectiveness, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, termed the vaccine candidate as promising.
Meanwhile, rising tensions between the US and China hit investor sentiment in the latter part of the week. The US claims that it is working on a bill that could bar some Chinese firms from listing their stocks on the country’s exchanges. Adding to concerns around the Chinese economy, the Asian dragon declined from issuing economic growth targets for the first time since the country started the practice. China remained in the news last week, with the country’s government planning to impose new national security legislations on Hong Kong following pro-democracy protests last year.
Performance of US Indices
US stocks ended mostly unchanged on the last day of the week, with investors looking forward to the long weekend as equity markets remain closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Despite the lull on the last trading day, markets closed the week on a strong note, shrugging off the tensions between Beijing and Washington to remain optimistic about vaccine development for the deadly coronavirus.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which slipped less than 0.1% to close at 24,465.16 on Friday, recorded a weekly gain of 3.3% after tumbling around 2.7% in the previous week. The S&P 500 index added 0.2% on Friday and ended the week higher by 3.2%. The Nasdaq Composite Index once again outperformed the other indices, notching a weekly gain of 3.4%.
Top US Stocks of the Week
Moderna grabbed investor attention for most of the week after the company reported strong Phase 1 data from its coronavirus vaccine. The company’s stock jumped around 20% on Monday and ended the week higher by 3.5%.
Walmart’s shares rose on Tuesday after the retailer announced upbeat results for its first quarter, with ecommerce sales spiking 74%. Shares gave up gains, however, later in the day and ended on a lower note. Walmart’s stock closed the week lower by more than 1%.
Shares of Lowe’s Companies climbed more than 3% on Thursday after the company reported higher-than-expected Q1 results. The retailer’s shares ended the week on a stronger note, rising over 7%.
On Thursday, shares of L Brands surged more than 18% even after the company posted a wider-than-projected loss for the latest quarter. The strong performance of its Bath & Body Works segment lifted the stock. L Brands closed the week higher by a whopping 39%.
Shares of Expedia Group fell more than 3% on Thursday, after the online travel site reported wider-than-expected quarterly losses. However, the stock grabbed investor attention, rising around 17% over the week.
Performance of European Indices
European markets closed mostly flat on Friday with rising tensions between the US and China, which hurt stocks exposed to Asia. Hopes of an economic recovery, with encouraging news of the covid-19 vaccine, helped stocks post weekly gains for the major European indices.
The STOXX Europe 600 index cut back losses of around 1.7% during the day, ending mostly flat on Friday. The index gained 3.6% on the week. London’s FTSE 100 index posted a decline of 0.4% on Friday, but closed the week higher by 3.3%. The German DAX 30 and French CAC 40 posted weekly gains of 5.8% and 3.9%, respectively.
Top European Stocks of the Week
Shares of Marks & Spencer gained around 11% on Wednesday, after the British retailer announced a £1 billion plan for covid-19.
On Wednesday, Telecom Italia’s stock plummeted 8% after the company reported downbeat revenues for its latest quarter.
Shares of Burberry gained over 3% on Friday, after the British retailer said it was witnessing signs of a rebound in some regions of Asia.
The Forex Market
The Australian dollar surged against the greenback last week and moved towards the 0.66 level. The Aussie was unable to retain its lead, however, slipping against the US dollar on Friday to fall towards the 0.65 mark, as sentiment took a hit due to concerns in China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner. Despite the decline on Friday, the Australian dollar ended the week with gains of around 1.9% versus the US currency.
Last week proved to be a significant one for the Euro, given the announcement of a coronavirus recovery fund worth €500 billion by France and Germany, to help the regions affected the most by the coronavirus pandemic. The Euro surged towards the 1.10 level against the US dollar, but quickly gave up gains. After closing slightly lower on Friday, the common currency for the Eurozone, ended the week with gains of around 0.7% versus the greenback.
The Crypto Market
Bitcoin struggled during the latter half of the week after posting some gains initially. The cryptocurrency rose as high as $9,945 last week, before adopting a downward trajectory, possibly on profit taking.