Stock Market Today: Early Rally Collapses as Market Digests COVID Closures

A growing number of COVID-related curfews and shutdowns overshadowed more positive vaccine data Wednesday, sending stocks spiraling into the close.

A comical-looking rocket sits upside-down, crumpled, after hitting the ground without exploding
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Conflicting COVID developments kept the major indices grounded for a second straight session.

Pfizer (PFE (opens in new tab), +0.8%) and BioNTech (BNTX (opens in new tab), +4.0%) on Wednesday announced a complete set of trial data showing that their COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective (better than the 90%-plus efficacy reported from partial data last week). Later Wednesday, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin told CNN that the companies would file for an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

That fueled market gains early on, but investors' focus shifted to America's escalating pandemic situation.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of Kiplinger’s expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of Kiplinger’s expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

The U.S. set a new daily caseload record with 155,000 reported Tuesday, and yesterday's 1,707 deaths were the highest since May 14, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Municipalities nationwide have begun implementing curfews, closures and other measures, and a new stimulus bill remains far out of sight.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which began the day solidly higher, dipped into the close, finishing with an 1.2% decline to 29,438.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 also dropped 1.2% to 3,567.
  • The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.8% to 11,801.
  • The Russell 2000 fell 1.3% off yesterday's record close, finishing at 1,769.
  • U.S. crude oil futures closed 0.9% higher to settle at $41.80 per barrel.
  • Gold futures finished lower again, settling at $1,873.90 per ounce, a 0.6% decline.
  • Target (TGT (opens in new tab)) climbed 2.3% after the company crushed analyst expectations for its third quarter. Record adjusted profits of $2.79 per share were more than double year-over-year and beat expectations for $1.60. "The sustainability of its pandemic-driven surge in sales and earnings becomes the key question, particularly given uncertainty regarding future stimulus and waning retail sales growth," writes CFRA's Garrett Nelson (Hold).
  • Boeing (BA (opens in new tab), -3.2%), like the Dow, started the day higher but finished with losses. But it was still a good day for the aircraft manufacturer, as the Federal Aviation Administration provided a green light for its troubled 737 Max to return to the skies.

A Rotation? Maybe. A Swift Rotation? Absolutely Not.

We've discussed in recent weeks the idea that the market appears to be rotating away from certain stocks and toward others. There's the rotation from growth stocks into value stocks. And the rotation away from sectors such as technology and into the likes of industrials and financials.

Whether or not this rotation continues is up in the air. But it's not just a flip of the switch.

"(Investors) need to remember internal sector and industry rotations are frequently lumpy with entry/exit points that are very difficult to time," says Scott Knapp, chief market strategist at CUNA Mutual Group. "Staying diversified throughout is still the best play for long-term investors."

Fortunately, it has never been easier or cheaper to get wide stock (and bond) exposure. These 10 rock-solid mutual funds don't have too much in common – some are broad-market plays, others are narrow sector bets and still others deliver fixed income – but they all share attributes that matter: low costs, dependable management and top-tier performance. Check them out.

Kyle Woodley was long BA as of this writing.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor,

Kyle is senior investing editor for As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.