Oil, Equities Spike on Breakthrough in COVID-19 Vaccine

Liubov Georges
By  Liubov Georges , DTN Energy Reporter

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Oil futures and equities spiked Monday following news from Pfizer and BioNtech that Phase 3 trial testing with nearly 45,000 participants found their COVID-19 vaccine more than 90% effective in preventing the virus. The drug makers are on track to earn Emergency Use Authorizations from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration by the third week of November.

"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," said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.

Pfizer and German-based BioNtech plan to produce 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

The Pfizer announcement prompted comments on the progress of two other vaccines, with National Health Institute Director Dr. Anthony Fauci indicating Monday that Moderna, which is also conducting Phase 3 trials, appears on course to produce a similar immune response as the Pfizer-BioNtech. Both vaccines use similar Messenger RNA technology (synthetic genes).

The Russian Health Ministry on Monday also announced its Sputnik V vaccine has achieved a 90% effective rate in late-stage trials, with official results to be published late November. Sputnik V is based on a different technology which uses two adenovirus vectors and was developed by Moscow's Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

Lancet Journal, a leading medical publication, boosted credibility for the Russian vaccine after it confirmed strong immune response during the initial trials, while the Russian government claimed it has received a request to provide over one billion doses globally.

The news comes as coronavirus infections in the United States topped 10 million over the weekend, with new cases rising by 120,000 per day as a "second wave" of infections accelerates in major economies around the world.

The news came as coronavirus infection in the United States and the European Union surged to the highest level since the start of the pandemic this month, triggering renewed lockdowns and tighter quarantine restrictions. The recent projections from the European Commission showed economic growth across the Eurozone's bloc would not return to its pre-crisis before 2023.

Domestically, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., resumed efforts to bring about a relief package for millions of American households and businesses, with previous coronavirus benefits which include moratorium on evictions set to expire on Dec. 31.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken the lead on stimulus negotiations Monday with the Senate back in session, pushing for a smaller and more targeted rescue package which includes another round of small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and $300 in federal unemployment benefits.

On the session, the December West Texas Intermediate futures settled up $3.15 at $40.29 barrel (bbl), easing from a $41.33 high, the ICE January Brent contract rallied $2.95 or 7.5% to $42.40 bbl after trading as high as $43.48 bbl. NYMEX December ULSD futures settled up 7.41 cents at $1.2167 gallon, the highest settlement since late August. December RBOB futures settled 7.63 cents higher at $1.1607 gallon.

In equities, Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 834.57 points or 2.95% at 29,157.97, with the S&P 500 Index up 41.06 at 3,550.50.

Liubov Georges can be reached at liubov.georges@dtn.com

Liubov Georges