Stocks rose on Wednesday as the market tried to regain record highs in the final days of 2020.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 164 points, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4%.
Disney and Caterpillar rose 3.3% and 2.3% respectively to keep the Dow higher. Energy was the best performing sector in the S&P 500, up nearly 2%.
The surge on Wednesday came after a UK regulator approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca for emergency use. Approval came after the discovery of a new strain of Covid in Great Britain, which was also confirmed in the USA
The number of Covid cases is still higher. The US currently has at least 180,905 new cases and at least 2,210 virus-related deaths every day, based on a seven-day average calculated by CNBC using data from Johns Hopkins University.
Wall Street continued to weigh the prospect of additional fiscal stimulus as lawmakers continued to disagree on direct payments to Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Chuck Schumer’s efforts to accelerate the House of Representatives bill passed late Monday that would increase checks from $ 600 to $ 2,000. McConnell then linked the payment hike to President Donald Trump’s calls for technology and elections.
On Tuesday evening, the stimulus payments ran out, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
With just two trading days a year, the key averages were on the way to rising higher by 2020. The Dow rose 6.3% over the year while the S&P 500 rose 15.36%. Despite recent selling pressures, the Russell 2000 is still up 17.4% over the year.
The clear winner since the beginning of the year remains the Nasdaq Composite, which is up 43%.
“We expect strong economic growth to pick up again in 2021 following the headwinds from the pandemic in 2020 and the US-China trade war in 2019,” said Doug Rao, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson Investors.
“While the lead so far has been tight – mostly confined to the digital economy – we expect a deepening recovery as vaccines become widespread and consumers can re-enter the physical economy,” he added.
Major averages closed lower Tuesday, abandoning early gains that drove stocks to record highs on the opening bell. Both the Dow and S&P 500 snapped three-day winning streaks, each falling 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite meanwhile fell 0.4%.
The Russell 2000 closed 1.9% lower for the third year in a row.
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Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Doug Rao’s quote was misassigned.