Stocks rise after upbeat vaccine news; sterling slips

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Global equity indexes rose and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record closing highs on Tuesday after encouraging COVID-19 vaccine news, while Brexit deal talks weighed on sterling.

FILE PHOTO: Raindrops hang on a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Stocks on Wall Street reversed the day’s earlier declines, even as worries about further fiscal stimulus remained.

Johnson & Johnson shares rose after the company said it could obtain late-stage trial results of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine it is developing earlier than expected.

Pfizer Inc also gained as it cleared the next hurdle in the race to get its COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use after the U.S. health regulator released documents raising no new safety or efficacy issues.

Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Jersey, said there is much near-term negative news because of the virus but, at the same time, a lot of positive news because of the vaccine.

COVID-19 infections nationwide in the United States were at their peak, with an average of 193,863 new cases reported each day over the past week, a Reuters tally of official data showed.

Investors are waiting to hear if more stimulus will be approved. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said lawmakers should pass an aid package without either the business liability protections that Republicans want or the aid to state and local governments that is a Democratic priority.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 104.09 points, or 0.35%, to 30,173.88, the S&P 500 gained 10.29 points, or 0.28%, to 3,702.25 and the Nasdaq Composite added 62.83 points, or 0.5%, to 12,582.77.

The S&P 500 managed to close above 3,700 for the first time.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended up 0.2% on the day, while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.21%.

Investors were trying to assess how widely and quickly vaccines might be available. A 90-year-old grandmother in Britain on Tuesday became the world’s first person to receive a fully-tested COVID-19 shot.

The dollar edged higher in choppy trading, taking a breather from a sell-off that took it to its lowest level in more than 2-1/2 years last week, while sterling dipped as investors awaited the outcome of Brexit trade-deal talks.

With just three weeks left to break a deadlock in trade deal negotiations, talk of a chaotic British split from the European Union grew. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the two sides may have to accept “no deal”.

In the foreign exchange market, sterling was last trading at $1.3356, down 0.15% on the day, while the dollar index was up 0.1%.

Investors are also looking ahead to a two-day EU summit that begins on Thursday, and the bloc is ready to set up its planned EU stimulus without Hungary and Poland, which are maintaining their veto of the EU budget.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields were lower as investors watched for news on vaccines and their distribution.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 3/32 in price to yield 0.92%, from 0.93% late on Monday.

Oil prices were little changed, with Brent crude futures settling at $48.84 a barrel, up 5 cents. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled 16 cents lower at $45.60.

Spot gold prices were also nearly flat.

Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; additional reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, Marc Jones in London and Ross Kerber in Boston and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; editing by Philippa Fletcher, Larry King, Mark Heinrich, Barbara Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall