Stocks rise on Wall Street as S&P 500 hits at record high
New York — The S&P 500 rose to a record high Friday as investors continue to look forward to the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and relief for the global economy.
The benchmark index rose 8.70 points, or 0.2%, led by gains in technology companies, and closed at an all-time high of 3,638.35. The Nasdaq also closed at a record helped by gains in Apple, Tesla, Zoom and other tech companies.
Positive developments on the vaccine front have driven double-digit gains in the major indexes this month as investors look forward to progress in gaining control over the pandemic that plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s. That optimism persisted this week even as one vaccine candidate suffered a setback and cases of coronavirus remain at elevated levels.
Meanwhile, retailers were hoping that their slumping sales get a boost from shoppers on Black Friday but early indications are that store traffic was light.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which earlier this week crossed 30,000 for the first time, rose 37.90 points, or 0.1%, to 29,910.37. The Nasdaq gained 111.44, or 0.9%, to 12,205.85.
U.S. markets closed at 1 p.m. Eastern after being shut for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Health care companies also posted solid gains. Moderna jumped 16.4% and Pfizer rose 1.9%. The two companies earlier this month released results showing their COVID-19 vaccine candidates were highly effective in tests. The shares got a boost Friday after a competing vaccine suffered a setback.
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 said the company might conduct another trial. AstraZeneca shares were flat.
Still, hopes for a vaccine have 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.
Macy's shares fell 1.4% while shares of Walmart showed a slight decline. Shares of the online marketplace Etsy, meanwhile, rose 10.7%.
Tech shares have led the market's climb back from its plunge in March as investors bet giants such as Apple and Microsoft will keep raking in the profits whether Americans are forced to stay home or the economy begins to return to something resembling normalcy. Apple rose 0.5%.
Tesla rose 2.1% and Zoom Video Communications gained 6.3%. The two stocks have been market darlings so far this year with gains of 600% or more.
European markets rose. Germany's DAX gained 0.4% and the CAC 40 in France rose 0.6%. Asia markets also rose Friday. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 0.8%.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 0.84% from 0.87% Wednesday.