Stocks burst higher, S&P 500 at record on vaccine hopes

Stock trader Thomas Ferrigno arrives to work at the New York Stock Exchange. Stock markets rocketed higher today after Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective and investors breathed a sigh of relief after days of U.S. presidential limbo ended with Democrat Joe Biden declared the president-elect. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Lennihan

NEW YORK — Stocks around the world are surging today, sending Wall Street back to record heights, on a burst of hope following encouraging data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

The S&P 500 jumped 3.2% in early trading after Pfizer said an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, though that doesn’t mean its release is imminent. That put the index at the heart of many 401(k) accounts on track to close at a record for the first time in more than two months.

Financial markets around the world were already climbing before the vaccine data’s release, and Wall Street seemed set to follow on relief that the limbo created by the long, market-bruising battle for the White House was finally clearing. Democrat Joe Biden over the weekend clinched the last of the electoral votes needed to become the next president.

But U.S. stock futures, Treasury yields and oil prices burst even higher immediately following the vaccine news. The yield on the 10-year Treasury shot up from 0.81% before the announcement to 0.93%, a big move for the bond market and one that shows stronger confidence in the economy.

Stocks of companies that most need the economy and the world to return to normal for their profits to heal led the way. A 16.1% surge for Chevron and 13.5% leap for The Walt Disney Co. amid hopes that people will start driving and flying to theme parks again helped drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a leap of 1,290 points, or 4.6%, to 29,614, as of 8:45 a.m. Central time.

Cruise operators, airlines and mall owners were also among the market’s biggest winners.

The Big Tech companies that drove the market higher earlier in the pandemic, in large part because they didn’t need a “normal” economy, were lagging behind. That kept a lid on the gains for the Nasdaq composite, which rose a more modest 0.9%.

If a vaccine for COVID-19 does indeed pan out, analysts called it a “game changer” and just what the market had been waiting for. It underscores again how the coronavirus and its effect on the economy are the dominant concerns for investors, much more than who wins what in Washington.

Still, analysts caution that several risks remain that could trip up the market’s big recent gains.

Investors are pushing stocks up as they focus on a more encouraging future, but the present is still bleak in many ways. Coronavirus counts continue to rise at troubling rates across much of Europe and the United States, so much that several European governments have brought back restrictions on businesses.

And in Washington, some uncertainties remain that could derail what’s already become a roughly 11% rally for the S&P 500 so far in November. Markets are banking on control of Congress remaining split between Democrats and Republicans, which can keep some of Washington’s pro-business policies the status quo, but that hinges on the result of run-off elections in Georgia in January.

President Donald Trump has also refused to concede the election and continues to threaten legal action.

For now, though, euphoria about a possible return to normal is the dominant force across markets.

Pfizer jumped 8.1% as its announcement indicates the company is on track to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators later this month.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil surged 10.2% to $40.93 per barre on expectations that a healthier economy will burn more energy. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 9% to $43.00 per barrel.

Gold, meanwhile, fell 3.9% to $1,875.30 per ounce as investors felt less need to crowd into investments considered safe refuges.

In European stock markets, France’s CAC 40 soared 7.6% and Germany’s DAX returned 5.%. The FTSE 100 in London jumped 5.4%.

Many analysts expect trade tensions to de-escalate under a Biden presidency. Still, not all trade tensions are expected to vanish even if Biden rolls back some of the tariffs imposed by Trump on U.S. trading partners, especially China, in the past several years.

The European Union pressed ahead today with plans to impose tariffs and other penalties on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal American support for plane maker Boeing. That followed a World Trade Organization ruling in the U.S.’s favor over EU support for Airbus.

In Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 2.1%, South Korea’s Kospi advanced 1.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.2% and stocks in Shanghai rose 1.9%.

Customs data released Saturday showed China’s export growth accelerated in October, boosting the total so far this year back above pre-coronavirus levels for the first time. Exports in October rose 11.4% over a year earlier to $237.2 billion, up from September’s 9.9% gain, while imports rose 4.7% by value to $178.7 billion, decelerating from the previous month’s 13.2% surge.

NEW YORK — Stock markets rocketed higher today after Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective and investors breathed a sigh of relief after days of U.S. presidential limbo ended with Democrat Joe Biden declared the president-elect.

Markets were already sharply higher on the U.S. election result when Pfizer said that data shows vaccine shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators.

Any economic recovery depends on checking the pandemic, and investors pounced upon the news. Pfizer’s data is only preliminary and does not mean a vaccine is imminent. Getting the vaccine to billions of people will be a massive undertaking, even if it is approved.

Dow futures jumped 4.2% higher while those for the S&P 500 rose 3.1%.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 jumped 5.6% to 5,239, while Germany’s DAX surged 5.1% to 13,112. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 4% to 6,145.

Markets were already buoyant about the result of the U.S. elections, which saw Biden win the presidency.

“This means less uncertainty, less turmoil in terms of foreign relations, and reversal of some futile policies which were put by the Trump administration,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade, said in a commentary.

Many analysts expect trade tensions to de-escalate under a Biden presidency. Still, not all trade tensions are expected to vanish even if Biden rolls back some of the tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on U.S. trading partners, especially China, in the past several years.

The European Union pressed ahead today with plans to impose tariffs and other penalties on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal American support for plane maker Boeing. That followed a World Trade Organization ruling in the U.S.’s favor over EU support for Airbus.