S&P 500 hits all-time closing high after earnings, oil drops on pandemic worry

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street jumped on Friday as encouraging earnings stoked risk appetite and President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID advisory team said it was not considering a nationwide shutdown, but oil prices slid as Libyan output rose and investors worried the resurgent pandemic could hurt global demand.

FILE PHOTO: A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The bellwether S&P 500 and the small cap Russell 2000 both reached record closing highs.

Upbeat results from Cisco Systems Inc CSCO.O and Walt Disney Co DIS.N helped send Wall Street's three major stock indexes higher.

“Profits have been refreshingly healthy,” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. “It’s really a credit to companies’ ability to adapt and grow even in the face of the crisis.”

Economically sensitive cyclicals and small cap stocks, which led the rally at the beginning of the week, once again outperformed. On Monday, investor risk appetite was boosted by Pfizer Inc's PFE.N announcement that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed with German partner BioNTech SE BNTX.O appeared to be 90% effective.

President-elect Joe Biden’s pandemic advisory board said there was no plan to enact a nation-wide shutdown.

“The recent vaccine headlines have clearly been a positive but there is still uncertainty and concerns regarding shutdowns,” Carter added. “Biden’s recent indication that the U.S. economy may remain open certainly helps market sentiment.”

The S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow posted their second straight weekly gains, and their best two-week runs since April, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the session below last Friday’s close.

Economic data released on Friday showed consumers were growing more pessimistic, while tepid inflation reflected slack labor markets and sluggish demand.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 399.64 points, or 1.37%, to 29,479.81, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 48.14 points, or 1.36%, to 3,585.15 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 119.70 points, or 1.02%, to 11,829.29.

European stocks ended flat as rising fears of economic damage from the pandemic offset recent vaccine optimism. Still, the benchmark index notched its second straight week of gains.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.01% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.83%.

U.S. Treasury yields were mixed as investors consolidated positions ahead of the weekend and remained cautious given the surge in coronavirus cases. But the yield curve steepened on Friday, after flattening the previous session.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last fell 2/32 in price to yield 0.893%, from 0.886% late on Thursday.

The 30-year bond US30YT=RR last rose 6/32 in price to yield 1.6442%, from 1.652% late on Thursday.

U.S. crude dropped 2.41% to settle at $40.13 per barrel, while Brent settled at $42.78 per barrel, down 1.72% on the day.

The dollar was down, but safe-haven yen and Swiss franc currencies strengthened, reflecting a loss of risk appetite driven by vaccine hopes.

The dollar index fell 0.23%, with the euro up 0.23% to $1.1831.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.48% versus the greenback at 104.64 per dollar, while Sterling GBP= was last trading at $1.3195, up 0.62% on the day.

Gold prices rose as rising global coronavirus infections sparked renewed fears over the pandemic’s economic toll.

Spot gold added 0.6% to $1,887.78 an ounce.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by David Gregorio