In macro-economic news on Friday, the U.S. Leading Index, measured by the Conference Board, increased on a month-on-month basis by 0.6 percent in November, following a 0.8 percent rise in October, while 0.5 percent growth was expected. Furthermore, in the third quarter, the United States reported a current account deficit of $178.5 billion compared to a consensus of $186 billion and $161.4 billion in the second quarter.
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Investors also tend to disregard the spread of the virus on the health front and concentrate on the more positive vaccine news. On Thursday evening, a positive opinion on Moderna’s vaccine was given by the U.S. drug regulator FDA’s advisory committee, recommending its immediate use against coronavirus. This is the last move that is supposed to take place very quickly, maybe as early as this Friday, before the official go-ahead for the vaccine to go on the market.
On Friday morning, Donald Trump outpaced the FDA, assuring on his Twitter account that Moderna’s vaccine had been “overwhelmingly approved” and that “distribution will begin immediately.”
With the 20 favorable and one refraining vote on Thursday evening, the FDA Advisory Committee ruled that the benefit-risk ratio of Moderna’s vaccine was positive for individuals 18 years of age and older. The FDA gave the green light last weekend to the first vaccine, the American Pfizer vaccine allied with the German biotech company BioNTech. This allowed the United States, which was the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, to begin its vaccination campaign on Monday, December 14, a week after the United Kingdom.
The number of reported cases of the latest coronavirus since the pandemic started now exceeds 75.2 million worldwide, including 17.3 million in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University on Friday. Since its advent, the virus has claimed 1.66 million lives worldwide, including more than 312,700 in the US.
Also, the Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (whose support is crucial) appeared to be hopeful about conciliation on Friday and will pressure his peers to vote to delay the “shutdown” for 48 hours to find an agreement by the end of the weekend. According to CNBC, McConnell informed reporters on Wednesday that he would not leave the Senate until an agreement was reached.
After the onset of the health crisis, around $3,000 billion in assistance to individuals and companies have already been approved by the U.S. Congress, including a huge $2,200 billion package passed last March, the CARES Act. However, the majority of assistance services will stop on 31 December without an additional program, depriving 12 million people of unemployment benefits and also ending loan and rent moratoriums.