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Nasdaq and S&P 500 notch record high as investors bank on vaccine

Vaccine czar on distribution timeline
Vaccine czar on distribution timeline 03:02

New York  — U.S. stocks climbed to new heights on Friday during a shortened trading session, led by gains in technology companies that propelled the Nasdaq to a record-high close.

The S&P 500 also finished at an all-time high, scoring its third weekly gain in the past four weeks. Investors have been encouraged by progress in getting a coronavirus vaccine approved and distributed and hopefully halting the coronavirus pandemic's grip on the global economy.

"Alternating between 'Walking on Sunshine' and 'Future's so Bright I Gotta Wear Shades,' the markets are looking forward to the impact of the vaccine and not at the high/rising Covid cases," Paul Nolte, senior vice president at Kingsview Wealth Management, observed in a weekly client's note. 

The Nasdaq, which has a heavy weighting of technology stocks, gained 111 points, or 0.9%, to end at 12,206 .The Dow, which earlier this week crossed 30,000 for the first time, rose 0.1% to 29,910, while the S&P 500 rose 8.7 points, or 0.2%, to 3,638.35.

U.S. markets close at 1 p.m. Eastern time after being shut for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Congress deadlocked on new aid package 06:40

The gains came in the week that included troubling signals on the economic recovery, with the count of Americans applying for jobless aid rising even as unemployment benefits are set to run out for 12 million people the week after Christmas. 

"These developments are worrying in the context of the ongoing gridlock in Washington around further fiscal stimulus," Deutsche Bank analysts said in a report this week. "Without such support, this emerging tight relationship is likely to persist, leading to a stalling out or even an outright reversal of the recovery in the labor market that has been evident in recent months."

Despite signs the economy is losing steam, major indexes have shown double-digit growth so far this month, with the S&P 500 posting a gain of just over 11%. Investors are looking forward to a possible vaccine to control the pandemic that plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s. Pfizer and Moderna have released results showing their vaccines proved highly effective against COVID-19 in testing.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca also this week released positive test results about their vaccine. But researchers have questioned how Oxford and AstraZeneca calculated the effectiveness of their vaccine. The AstraZeneca CEO told Bloomberg News the company might conduct another trial. Pfizer's vaccine could begin distribution next month if approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

IMF's chief economist on the impact of COVID 08:12

The vaccine news has offset concerns about spiking coronavirus cases in the U.S. and other parts of the world. U.S. states and European governments are re-imposing controls on business and travel as infection rates surge.

The disease has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide and there are 61 million confirmed cases, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

The pandemic has brought significant changes to the traditional Black Friday shopping holiday. Many retailers are beefing up their safety protocols, moving their doorbuster deals online and curbside pickup options as a last grasp at sales before the year ends.

Retailers need a boost from Black Friday and holiday shopping altogether to try and recoup sales lost to the pandemic. Early indications are that people are staying home and choosing to do any shopping online.

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