Markets in buoyant mood after multiple Covid-19 vaccine breakthroughs

Improved risk sentiment will see the US dollar remain under pressure in the short term

Specialist Patrick King works at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Stocks rose in early trading Monday after investors received several pieces of encouraging news on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, tempering concerns over rising virus cases and business restrictions.  (Nicole Pereira/New York Stock Exchange via AP)
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Financial markets rallied this week as more vaccine news, this time lead by AstraZeneca, boosted investor confidence.

While the company’s vaccine trial results indicate a 70 per cent efficacy, lower than Pfizer and Moderna, the distribution, logistics and lower price point around AstraZeneca’s vaccine is being celebrated by equity markets. A quick look at the results would suggest cause for optimism.

The University of Oxford’s partnership with AstraZeneca in developing a vaccine aims to deliver it on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic and would be available for people in poorer countries.

The vaccine costs roughly £3 (Dh14.7) per dose compared with £28 for a Moderna dose and £15 for a Pfizer dose. The AstraZeneca vaccine has other advantages – it can be stored at a temperature between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius versus the deep cold storage required by its counterparts. This alleviates logistical complications.

While this is the third such vaccine announcement since the US Presidential election results were confirmed earlier this month, after initially rallying on the news, equities tended to sell off in the days after. I am expecting more of the same this week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average likely to hold above 29,000, with the 30,000 level still out of sight.

We are in a shortened trading week due to the US Thanksgiving holiday and any meaningful closing above the 30,000 level will have to wait until next week at the earliest.

The combination of the vaccine news and overall improved risk sentiment have seen the US dollar remain under pressure and I expect this trend to continue in the short term. The channel at 92/92.20 in my last column remains a good support level for the greenback and we expect it to hold through to the start of December.

It’s another big week for Brexit negotiations as discussions are expected to wrap up. British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said there is genuine progress in talks. While there could be encouraging headlines this week, the key non-negotiables will need to be taken up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the top European Union brass heading into December.

Cable (GBP/USD currency pair) has been in a nice uptrend from the middle of September. I expect another test of those 2020 highs towards 1.35 before the end of the year.

The distribution, logistics and lower price point around AstraZeneca's vaccine is being celebrated by equity markets

Along with Brexit developments and vaccine-related news, markets will also await the third-quarter US gross domestic product print, expected at 33.1 per cent, due later today. This will be followed by the Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes due at 11pm UAE time before the US markets retreat for the Thanksgiving lull.

Gold dropped to four-month lows as heightened risk appetite kept bullion bulls in check. After hitting those highs at $1,960 in the immediate aftermath of the US elections, gold has been weaker following the triumvirate of vaccine announcements through November.

The initial Pfizer announcement saw the precious metal drop around $100 an ounce, while the recent AstraZeneca news has seen the metal sell off more than $40 in trading at the start of this week. I expect gold to remain under pressure in the weeks ahead, with the downside capped at $1,780 through the end of 2020.

Gaurav Kashyap is a market strategist at Equiti Global Markets. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Equiti