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Stocks Hit Record High On Moderna's Vaccine News; Dow Nears 30,000

Stocks rallied after Moderna said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was nearly 95% effective in a clinical trial.
Stocks rallied after Moderna said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was nearly 95% effective in a clinical trial.

Investors were also reassured by comments from two Biden advisers that no nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns are being contemplated.

Updated at 2:11 p.m. ET

Hopes for a vaccine have returned the good times to financial markets.

Stocks extended a recent rally, sending the Dow to a record high Monday after Moderna became the second drugmaker to tout progress toward developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

The Dow is now close to reaching 30,000 points for the first time, and it appears to have put behind it for now a period of uncertainty ahead of the election that hurt markets.

It was the second positive news on COVID-19 for markets after Pfizer last week similarly announced positive developments for its experimental vaccine.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 344 points, or 1.2%, as of mid-afternoon trading after earlier hitting a record high of 29,943.

The S&P 500 rose 0.8%, while the Nasdaq was up 0.4%.

The rally was sparked after Moderna said that during a clinical trial its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective at preventing illness following exposure to the coronavirus.

"The global population couldn't have asked for more from the Moderna vaccine," said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Advisers. The news "should solidify the market rally that has been in play since last week."

"Today's vaccine news should make investors more tolerant of the surging virus cases, permitting them to look through to the strong dynamics that seem to be taking shape for 2021," she added.

Pfizer and partner BioNTEch last week announced an experimental COVID-19 vaccine that was more than 90% effective.

The two developments are raising hope for a global economy facing resurgences of the pandemic.

More than 11 million confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded in the United States, according to a COVID-19 tracker by Johns Hopkins University. The country reported 166,555 new cases on Sunday with 1,266 new deaths.

Just like last week, airlines and leisure companies that have been hurt by shutdowns and reduced travel rose on the news. Royal Caribbean Cruises rose 7.4%, while Delta Air Lines rose 3.2%.

However, some stocks that have benefited from the lockdowns fell. Zoom Video Communications lost 3.3%, while Netflix lost 0.5%.

Investors were also mollified by comments from two advisers to President-elect Joe Biden who said no nationwide lockdowns were being contemplated in response to the pandemic.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told Fox News Sunday that he preferred a targeted approach to fighting the virus, not a wholesale closure of the economy.

"If we just lock down the entire country without targeting our efforts, then we are going to exacerbate the 'pandemic fatigue' people are feeling, you're going to hurt jobs and the economy, you're going to shut down schools and hurt the education of our children," he said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.
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