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This Is Why the Dow Jones Clobbered the Nasdaq and S&P 500 Today

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:03 PM
Francois Aure
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:03 PM
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) set the tone for Wall Street on Monday.
  • Positive vaccine news and relentless demand fueled the Dow as it outpaced the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
  • A UNISYS survey suggests a disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street attitudes toward the pandemic.

The Dow Jones opened high, and even after a bout of intense stock market volatility, it looks set to secure a solid gain. The same can’t be said of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which plunged from session highs to trade lower in late afternoon trading.

Vaccine hopes and stable virus mortality rates helped the Dow 30 offset a brief hiccup in tech sector euphoria on Monday. At least until a disconcerting headline sent stocks lower right before the closing bell.

Dow Resists Late-Session Sell-Off But S&P 500 and Nasdaq Turn Lower

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dow Jones outpaced the S&P 500 and Nasdaq today.

Here’s where the three indices stood at 3:29 pm ET:

  • The Dow rose 230.42 points or 0.88% to 26,305.72.
  • The S&P 500 dipped 0.13% to 3,180.86.
  • The Nasdaq slid 1.06% to 10,504.72.
dow jones today
The Dow fell from its session highs as California reimplemented lockdown restrictions. | Source: Yahoo Finance 

With no real economic data to digest, Wall Street weighed some positive news against an otherwise-fraught pandemic storyline.

Despite an acceleration in new infections, there are rising hopes that a vaccine could arrive in 2020. A Pfizer-led project just received fast-track status from the FDA .

And while the White House is doing its best to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci , President Donald Trump would have been pleased on Monday. In an interview with Stanford Medicine, the virologist reiterated his optimism about a vaccine coming sooner rather than later.


Elsewhere, New York recorded zero daily virus deaths for the first time since the pandemic began.

A stabilizing mortality rate keeps the threat of mass lockdowns relatively low, but late-session headlines out of California  proved investors can’t ignore those risks entirely. Stocks fell from their daily highs after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered restaurants, movie theaters, and bars closed across the state.

Household Confidence Still Disconnected With Equity Markets

Despite the moves to the upside in the Dow, Wall Street euphoria does not seem to be matching up with household confidence.

A wide-ranging UNISYS survey  included some interesting data about how U.S. concern about the economy is trumping other threats.

More Americans reported a high level of stress about the current financial climate in the United States than the stability of the country’s health infrastructure:

Americans were… likely to be concerned about their country’s economic stability, with 60% registering serious concern (extremely or very concerned), and the stability of the country’s health infrastructure, with 55% extremely or very concerned.

This could have severe implications on U.S. consumer spending, which is arguably the most important economic engine in the global economy.

U.S. spending accounts for 1/4 of global household consumption .

Dow 30 Stocks: Apple Climbs, Pfizer Soars on Vaccine Hopes

The U.S. stock market’s colossal recovery has been powered by a narrow selection of names. The Dow 30 is no exception to this trend . That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see Apple (+1%) anchoring the DJIA’s charge today.

Pfizer was the best performing stock in the index, fueled by the news about its vaccine. The pharma giant’s 4.5% gain was relatively modest compared to its partner BioNTechs’s 11% bounce.

Financial stocks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase both rallied over 2% as yields rose.

A victim of the late-session sell-off in the tech sector, Microsoft reversed its earlier gains to lose 1.6%. Disney and Nike joined MSFT in the red with losses of around 1%.