SP 500, Nasdaq End at Record Highs on Vaccine Optimism

Dec 1 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes closed at record highs on Tuesday, with investors betting a COVID-19 vaccine will be available soon, and more confident about a speedy economic recovery following upbeat Chinese factory data.

Investors stayed focused on updates about a handful of vaccine candidates and the start of global shipments as drugmakers submit paperwork for regulatory approvals.

Pfizer Inc jumped after the drugmaker and Germany’s BioNTech SE sought emergency approval of their vaccine candidate from the European regulator.

The partners are neck-and-neck with rival Moderna Inc , which also applied for emergency approval from the European regulator. Its stock tumbled from a record high the day before.

“There is this optimism about what it means as we see news around vaccines emerge,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

“As we look toward a health solution, we could be sitting on a coiled spring of economic activity, but it could take a while for it to be unleashed.”

Earlier in the day, global equities got a boost from data that showed China’s factory activity in November increased at its fastest pace in a decade. Several other countries also reported sharp upticks in factory activity.

U.S. data showed a recovery in manufacturing activity lost momentum in November.

All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rose, with communication services among the leading gainers.

Investors also focused on remarks by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the Senate Banking Committee, where they agreed on the need for more aid for small businesses.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill aimed at breaking a months-long deadlock between Democrats and Republicans over new emergency assistance for small businesses, unemployed people, airlines and other industries during the pandemic.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 188.5 points, or 0.64%, to 29,827.14, the S&P 500 gained 40.82 points, or 1.13%, to 3,662.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 156.37 points, or 1.28%, to 12,355.11.

All three main stock indexes gained more than 10% in November.

Zoom Video Communications Inc slumped after warning its gross margins would remain under pressure going into 2021.

Tesla Inc rose after S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would add one of Wall Street’s most valuable companies to the S&P 500 index in one go on Dec. 21, rather than in two tranches.

Micron Technology Inc advanced as the chipmaker increased its revenue, gross margin and earnings forecast for the first quarter.

(Additional reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: Reuters

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