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S&P Stumbles As Report Questioned Vaccine Trial Results

The S&P 500 closed lower on Tuesday, as investors focused on a report questioning Moderna’s recent coronavirus vaccine early-stage trial results, wiping out modest gains on the benchmark index in the last hour of trading.

Major averages fell to session lows in the wake of a report from STAT News that questioned the validity of the results of Moderna’s vaccine trial, which the company had announced Monday. Moderna Inc shares plunged after the report, and closed down 10.41%.

Stocks had initially edged higher as investors attempted to glean information from a mixed bag of results from major retailers.

Trillions of dollars in fiscal and monetary stimulus have helped the S&P 500 rebound nearly 35% from its March 23 intraday low. While the benchmark index is now less than 13% below its Feb. 19 closing record, gains have largely slowed in May on uncertainty over truly halting the spread of the coronavirus and allowing business to resume and rising U.S.-China tensions.

The benchmark index surged more than 3% on Monday, boosted by Moderna’s promising early-stage data for a COVID-19 vaccine and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s pledge over the weekend to support the economy as needed until the crisis has passed.

Powell, in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, said the central bank was continuing to consider ways to accommodate additional borrowers, and Congress should consider anything to keep people out of insolvency.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 390.51 points, or 1.59%, to 24,206.86, the S&P 500 lost 30.97 points, or 1.05%, to 2,922.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 49.72 points, or 0.54%, to 9,185.10.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.43-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.63-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 60 new highs and seven new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.66 billion shares, compared to the 11.34 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.