Market briefing – 23rd November 2020
Monday 9th November 2020 – 6:45am
“Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE today announced their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, against SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated evidence of efficacy against COVID-19 in participants without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, based on the first interim efficacy analysis conducted on November 8, 2020 by an external, independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) from the Phase 3 clinical study.
- Vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis.
- Analysis evaluated 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants.
- Study enrolled 43,538 participants, with 42% having diverse backgrounds, and no serious safety concerns have been observed; Safety and additional efficacy data continue to be collected.
- Submission for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planned for soon after the required safety milestone is achieved, which is currently expected to occur in the third week of November.
- Clinical trial to continue through to final analysis at 164 confirmed cases in order to collect further data and characterise the vaccine candidate’s performance against other study endpoints.”
As Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said, “Today [9th November 2020] is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.”(1)
With a fair wind and the necessary regulatory approvals, Pfizer’s vaccine could be ready for use this year. However, caution is urged as supplies will be limited initially and the logistics of large-scale vaccination programmes take time and effort. In addition, the vaccine results were conducted under ideal scientific trial conditions. The ‘real world’ brings more nuances.
In addition to the Pfizer-Biotech announcement, Moderna also said on 16th November(2) that its Covid-19 vaccine showed 95% efficacy.
World stock markets agreed that this was a “great day for … humanity” and showed as such in their returns. As shown, markets on both sides of the Atlantic have continued to rise from 9th November driven by encouraging developments on the Covid-19 vaccine front.
Source: FE Analytics(3)
Both US indices here shown – as represented by iShares tracker funds (in British Pounds) – demonstrate good returns in the last 7 trading days.
Viewed over a longer time frame below – both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are up year-to-date, in spite of the bear market at the end of February.
Source: FE Analytics(3)
The Dow is up nearly 6% year-to-date because it is much less weighted toward the ‘FANMAG’(4) tech stocks which have had a stellar year overall, evidenced by the S&P 500 being up nearly 12% where they make up a significant proportion in terms of company value and size.
Closer to home, the UK’s top 100 companies, represented above by the iShares tracker (in British Pounds) has seen around a 3% increase in the last 7 trading days. However, unlike its US counterparts, the UK market is still well below the Covid-19 induced fall in February and remains 13% down year to date.
Staying closer to home, UK markets remain in a ‘Covid-Brexit’ induced slump, albeit rising marginally due to the Covax developments discussed above.
GDP reflected an improved environment following the relaxing of lockdowns during Q3 2020 – albeit seeing lockdowns and firebreaks reintroduced in various parts of the UK during Q4.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), “Following two consecutive quarters of contraction, UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have grown by a record 15.5% in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2020. This is the largest quarterly expansion in the UK economy since Office for National Statistics (ONS) quarterly records began in 1955.
However, it is worth noting that this reflects the continued easing of lockdown restrictions in the third quarter as well as some recovery of activity from the steep contraction in April (Figure 1).
The level of GDP in the UK is still 9.7% below where it was prior to the pandemic at the end of 2019. Compared with the same quarter a year ago, the UK economy fell by 9.6%.”
Source: Office for National Statistics(5)
Although headline figures across countries are not always comparable, globally, in terms of GDP, the UK remains in the doldrums when compared with other major economies.
Source: House of Commons library(6)
It is hoped that with Brexit in the ‘rear-view mirror’ in 2021 and with Covax on the horizon, home markets will improve.
What should this tell you?
No matter what short-term events occur – including the positive promise of a ‘covax’, or the latest national statistics – and remembering that “past performance is no guide to future returns”, investors should ignore these short-term events; at least from an investment perspective.
Focus should be on diversifying across individual stocks and across different asset types (i.e. bonds as well as equities, etc.), across geographical jurisdictions (e.g. globally), across investment styles (i.e. active management and index/passive investing) and across different investment philosophies (i.e. growth and value).
It should be remembered that no matter how diversified a portfolio is across asset types, geographical jurisdictions, investment styles and philosophies, risk and reward do typically go hand-in-hand and as such, risk can never be eliminated completely. It is also important to remember that we very often have a long-term investment time horizon. However, smart diversification across assets, geographical jurisdictions, styles and philosophies can help investors minimise their risks. Although it does not guarantee against loss, smart diversification is the most important component of reaching long-range financial goals while minimising risk.
As we have said before, we will continue to monitor the current financial situation and keep you notified of any changes that are made. If you would like to discuss how the current situation might affect you, then please seek professional financial advice to discuss your financial situation further.
The next market briefing will be published on 3rd December 2020.
- FE Analytics
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