Wall Street at all-time highs as vaccine moves step closer

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes hit record highs on Monday as the first successful data from a late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial spurred hopes of the economy recovering quickly from a year of pandemic-driven crisis.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Oil prices surged more than 8% and U.S. Treasuries sold off after U.S. drugmaker Pfizer PFE.N and its German partner BioNTech BNTX.O said data from the large-scale trial of their vaccine showed it was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.

“This (news) is extremely important and should give the market confidence that Pfizer’s candidate offers a breakthrough in terms of reaching herd immunity at some point next year,” said Robin Winkler, strategist at Deutsche Bank Research.

With Joe Biden’s clinching over the weekend of a tightly-fought presidential election also fuelling gains, the blue-chip Dow surged as much as 5.7%.

The companies hit hardest by months of travel bans and lockdowns soared. Boeing Co BA.N jumped 14%, while airlines .XAL and cruise line operators NCLH.NCCL.N were trading between 18% and 35% higher.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they had found no serious safety concerns so far and expected to seek U.S. emergency use authorization later this month.

“There are questions left in terms of how quickly Pfizer can get their vaccine to markets all around the world,” said Mike Bailey, director of research, FBB Capital Partners, Maryland.

“But today’s market move suggests… we checked a box in terms of reducing some risk as we look ahead in terms of economy.” At 12:41 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 1,323.71 points or 4.67%, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 109.77 points or 3.13% while the Russell 2000 small-cap index .RUT leaped 5.6% to an all-time high.

The S&P energy index .SPNY was on course for its best day since April, while bank shares .SPXBK, often seen as a proxy for the broader economy, jumped about 13%.

In contrast, shares in technology and other companies seen as “stay-at-home” winners in the pandemic were lower or made limited gains.

Netflix Inc NFLX.O fell 5.8% and Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O 2.8%, while Zoom Video ZM.O and exercise bike maker Peloton Interactive Inc PTON.O> plunged more than 13%, limiting the tech-heavy Nasdaq’s .IXIC gains to 0.8%.

World stocks scaled a record high earlier in the day and the dollar remained weak as expectations of better global trade ties and more monetary stimulus under President-elect Biden lifted demand for risky assets.

Treasury yields had fallen last week on expectations that Biden would win the White House, but the Senate would be controlled by Republicans, potentially stifling a fiscal stimulus package and putting the onus back on the Federal Reserve.

Biogen Inc BIIB.O slumped about 30% as a panel of experts to the U.S. health regulator voted against the drugmaker experiment Alzheimer’s treatment.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 4.6-to-1 on the NYSE and 2.9-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 140 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 385 new highs and 20 new lows.

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