published on November 23, 2020 - 2:09 PM
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Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Monday after investors received several pieces of encouraging news on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, tempering concerns over rising virus cases and business restrictions. The benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.6%, led by banks, industrial companies and other businesses that have been beaten down by the virus. The latest vaccine developments are helping to raise hopes that some normalcy will eventually be restored to everyday life and the economy. AstraZeneca is the latest drug developer to report surprisingly good results from ongoing vaccine studies.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received U.S. government approval for emergency use of its COVID-19 treatment.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: AP’s earlier story appears below.

U.S. stocks edged higher in afternoon trading Monday after investors received several pieces of encouraging news on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, tempering concerns over rising virus cases and business restrictions.

The benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.3%, led by banks, industrial companies and other businesses that have been beaten down by the virus.

The latest vaccine developments are helping to raise hopes that some normalcy will eventually be restored to everyday life and the economy. It is also tempering lingering concerns about new government controls as the virus spikes in the U.S. and globally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 244 points, or 0.8%, at 29,507 as of 2:26 p.m. Eastern time. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite inched up 0.1%.

Roughly 70% of the stocks in the S&P 500 rose. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks outpaced the broader market and jumped 1.9% in another signal that investors were feeling confident. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.85% from 0.81% late Friday.

Many of the companies making gains would greatly benefit from a vaccine allowing people to travel, shop and dine out.

Cruise line operator Carnival rose 5% and hotel company Marriott gained 2.9%. JPMorgan Chase rose 2.4%.

AstraZeneca is the latest drug developer to report surprisingly good results from ongoing vaccine studies. It said the potential vaccine, which is being developed with partner Oxford University, was up to 90% effective. Unlike rival candidates, however, AstraZeneca’s doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute.

Last week, Pfizer and Moderna both reported study results showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. And, over the weekend, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received U.S. government approval for emergency use of its COVID-19 treatment. The drug, which President Donald Trump received when he was sickened last month, is meant to try to prevent hospitalization and worsening disease from developing in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

The string of upbeat news about vaccine development has been butting up against increased caution as the virus continues to threaten the economy. That push and pull ultimately sent the S&P 500 to a loss last week. But, in the longer term, any positive updates on the vaccine front should be more dominant for the markets, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.

“It’s not a question of the vaccine versus the winter wave,” he said. “A reasonable forecast is uncertainty will go down.”

He added that any hesitancy in the market at this point should be centered around the issue of company valuations and how fundamentally sound companies are when more normal economic conditions return.

Energy companies notched among the biggest gains in the S&P 500 as the positive vaccine news stoked optimism about more demand for oil, sending the price of U.S. crude 1.6% higher.

Occidental Petroleum led all stocks in the S&P 500, climbing 14.7%.

Even with its weekly decline last week, the S&P 500 is on track for a 9.1% gain this month. Trading is expected to be light this week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, when U.S. stock markets will be closed. They will reopen on Friday for a half-day session.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.1%, and Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1%. The FTSE 100 in London fell 0.3%. Asian stocks were mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.1%, but other markets were stronger. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.5% and stocks in Shanghai added 0.2%.


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