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US Stock Indexes End Mostly Higher     12/02 16:14

   Stocks shook off a sluggish start to finish with modest gains Wednesday, 
nudging the S&P 500 index to an all-time high for the second straight day.

   (AP) -- Stocks shook off a sluggish start to finish with modest gains 
Wednesday, nudging the S&P 500 index to an all-time high for the second 
straight day.

   The benchmark index rose 0.2% after spending much of the day drifting 
between small gains and losses. About 54% of the stocks in the index rose, with 
communications, financial and health care companies driving the bulk of the 
gains. A pullback in technology stocks, companies that rely on consumer 
spending and elsewhere kept the market's gains in check.

   Treasury yields continued to head mostly higher, a sign of growing 
confidence in the outlook for the economy. That confidence has also been 
pushing stocks higher in recent weeks as traders hope coronavirus vaccines will 
start driving a stronger economic recovery. Investors were not deterred by new 
data Wednesday showing that hiring by U.S. companies slowed last month.

   "The biggest thing about the market that we've seen the last couple of weeks 
is (investors) keep trying to sell it, and it still hangs in there," said J.J. 
Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.

   The S&P 500 rose 6.56 points to 3,669.01. The index is now up about 13.6% 
for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 59.87 points, or 0.2%, to 
29,883.79. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite, which also opened the month with a 
new record, slipped 5.74 points, or 0.1%, to 12,349.37.

   Stocks have been ramping higher in recent weeks as drugmakers make steady 
progress in developing coronavirus vaccines. The rollout of a vaccine in the 
U.S. could begin this month, if regulators give their approval.

   Pfizer shares rose 3.5% after the drugmaker and BioNTech said they won 
permission for emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine in Britain. The vaccine 
is the world's first coronavirus shot that's backed by rigorous science and a 
major step toward eventually ending the pandemic. The move makes Britain one of 
the first countries to begin vaccinating its population against the virus. The 
companies have already asked for approval to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in 
December.

   Moderna is also asking U.S. and European regulators to allow emergency use 
of its COVID-19 vaccine. Its shares rose 1.4%.

   Optimism about vaccine developments have tempered lingering concerns over 
rising virus cases in the U.S., though worries persist about the economic 
fallout from new government restrictions on businesses aimed at limiting the 
spread.

   "My farther-out fear for the market is once this vaccine starts to roll out, 
will it be able to meet these amazing expectations people have for everything 
getting back to normal?" Kinahan said.

   Unemployment remains high as the COVID-19 outbreak widens the gulf between 
average people and the wealthiest Americans. Payroll processor ADP said 
Wednesday that its latest survey of private U.S. employers shows they added 
307,000 jobs last month. That fell short of Wall Street analysts' expectations 
for a gain of 405,000 jobs, according to FactSet.

   The report precedes a broader jobs survey from the Labor Department due out 
Friday. Economists are forecasting that will show employers added about 441,000 
jobs in November, down from a gain of 638,000 in October.

   Meanwhile, traders are holding out hope that Democrats and Republicans may 
reach a deal on some amount of economic stimulus for the economy before 2021, 
though the parties remain divided on the details and the cost.

   The Federal Reserve's latest survey of business conditions around the U.S. 
found economic activity has slowed in some parts of the country as amid a surge 
in new coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell 
and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers during a House Financial 
Services Committee hearing that Congress needs to approve COVID-19 relief funds 
without further delay.

   However, it looks like most lawmakers are willing to wait until after 
President-elect Joe Biden takes office, said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy 
analyst at Baird.

   "The problem is, by that point you're going to have six to 10 more weeks of 
economic damage," he said.

   Technology stocks, which have been leading the market higher since the 
pandemic started wreaking havoc on the global economy, helped limit the 
market's gains Wednesday. Salesforce.com was the biggest decliner in the S&P 
500, tumbling 8.5%, after announcing a deal late Tuesday to buy messaging 
platform Slack for $27.7 billion. Microsoft slipped 0.4%.

   Lyft climbed 9.6% after the ride-hailing company posted a smaller loss this 
quarter and better margins. The news helped boost rival Uber Technologies up 7%.

   Treasury yields headed higher, giving banks a boost because they allow them 
to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. The yield on the 10-year 
Treasury rose to 0.96% from 0.92% late Tuesday. JPMorgan Chase rose 1.9% and 
Citigroup gained 3.1%.

   Germany's DAX shed 0.5% and France's CAC 40 was flat. In Britain, the FTSE 
100 rose 1.2%. Markets in Asia were mixed.

 
 
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