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
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
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
"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.