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US: Dow hits 30,000 points for first time as stocks boom
[NEW YORK] The Dow surged past 30,000 points for the first time Tuesday as receding US political uncertainty and hopes for coronavirus vaccines offset worries over spiking Covid-19 cases.
After crossing the threshold in mid-day trading, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated slightly but was up 1.3 per cent at 29,987.06 around 1930 GMT.
The broad-based S&P 500 also gained 1.5 per cent to 3,632.31, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.2 per cent to 12,022.31.
Investors now feel more reassured that the United States can avoid a constitutional crisis over the transition of power following presidential elections earlier this month in which Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump still has not conceded his election defeat, but on Monday night, his administration officially authorised a transition, clearing the way for Mr Biden to have access to funds, office space and the ability to meet with federal officials.
Mr Trump himself called the 30,000 benchmark a "sacred" figure, touting it as a product of his administration's efforts to advance vaccines, the progress of which he said was "absolutely incredible."
Investors have already been cheered by an upbeat coronavirus vaccine announcement by British drugs group AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford as well as news that Mr Biden will tap former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary.
Ms Yellen "is a known and respected face on the international scene," said a note from High Frequency Economics, adding that the former Fed chair is not known as a hardline critic of Wall Street.
Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare recognised the latest Washington developments as "another excuse" for the market to rally in a holiday-shortened week when positive momentum is driving a "fear of missing out" trend.
That outlook is based on expectations that the US economy will pick up speed in 2021 as vaccines become further available and hard-hit sectors such as travel and energy begin to recover.
Markets are looking past near-term weakness tied to surging coronavirus cases.
The Conference Board, a New York-based business research organization, reported consumer confidence fell slightly more than expected in November to 96.1 from its upwardly revised 101.4 in October, driven mostly by worsening forecasts for the months ahead.
"Heading into 2021, consumers do not foresee the economy, nor the labor market, gaining strength," senior director of economic indicators Lynn Franco said.
"In addition, the resurgence of Covid-19 is further increasing uncertainty and exacerbating concerns about the outlook."
Among individual companies, Best Buy dropped 6.1 per cent as it reported higher profits on strong sales but declined to offer financial forecasts due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Dick's Sporting Goods dipped 2.1 per cent as it announced third-quarter profits more than tripled compared with the year-ago level to US$177.2 million behind a 23.2 per cent surge in same store sales.