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Steady gains for stocks deliver more records on Wall Street

A Wall Street sign in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
Technology and healthcare companies helped drive stocks to more gains Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

Technology and healthcare companies helped drive stocks to more gains Tuesday, leading to another round of milestones on Wall Street.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3%, eclipsing the all-time high it set Friday. The Nasdaq composite and Russell 2000 index of small company stocks also set record highs. The likelihood that one or more coronavirus vaccines could begin to be distributed in the U.S. in coming weeks has kept investors in a buying mood, boosting their optimism for an economic recovery next year.

The gains, which followed a shaky start for the market, came as Britain became the first Western country to start a mass vaccination program. On Tuesday, U.S. health regulators issued a positive initial review of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. A decision to allow its use is expected within days, though wide distribution is probably months away.

The S&P 500 rose 10.29 points to 3,702.25. The index had one of its best months in decades during November and is already up 2.2% so far this month. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 104.09 points, or 0.4%, to 30,173.88. The tech-heavy Nasdaq picked up 62.83 points, or 0.5%, to 12,582.77, marking its fourth straight record high.

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Small-company stocks rose much more than the rest of the market, a signal that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy. The Russell 2000 index climbed 26.53 points, or 1.4%, to 1,917.78.

Big Tech stocks that have been big winners during the pandemic helped power the rally Tuesday. Apple rose 0.5% and Microsoft gained 0.8%.

Healthcare stocks made solid gains. Pfizer rose 3.2% and Johnson & Johnson was up 1.7%. Exxon Mobil was among the big gainers in the energy sector, climbing 3.3%.

Shop-from-home clothing seller Stitch Fix soared 39.2% after reporting a surprise profit in its latest quarter. Etsy jumped 4.5%.

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A mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending and those that would greatly benefit from a fuller economic recovery continued to see a bit of churn.

Cruise line operators gained ground, including a 6.2% rise from Norwegian Cruise Line. Other companies that need a more normal economy in order to recover are still slipping. Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden, fell 0.4%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.92% from 0.91% late Monday.

European markets closed mixed and Asian markets fell.


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