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US: S&P 500, Nasdaq end at records on vaccine, stimulus hopes

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Major US stock indices closed at records again on Tuesday as optimism over potential coronavirus vaccines and revived stimulus talks in Congress offset worries about rising Covid-19 cases.

[NEW YORK] Major US stock indices closed at records again on Tuesday as optimism over potential coronavirus vaccines and revived stimulus talks in Congress offset worries about rising Covid-19 cases.

All three major indices won solid gains, with the broad-based S&P 500 ending at 3,662.45, up 1.1 per cent, topping last week's record.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.3 per cent to finish at 12,355.11, also a record, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6 per cent to 29,823.92.

The market was back in rally mode after pausing Monday when equities finished lower.

The European Medicines Agency said it would hold an extraordinary meeting on December 29 "at the latest" to consider emergency approval for a vaccine developed by Germany's BioNTech and US giant Pfizer.

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The announcement further advances the timeframe to finally bring the pandemic under control after it has dragged down the global economy.

France plans to prioritise the most fragile and exposed groups to receive the vaccine in early 2021, followed by a second campaign for the rest of the population between April and June, President Emmanuel Macron announced.

"For the first time since the pandemic began, there is now hope for a brighter future," OECD chief economist Laurence Boone wrote a global economic outlook that said vaccines could enable the global economy to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year.

Markets also were cheered by the revival of efforts on Capitol Hill to enact a fiscal package to support the coronavirus-ravaged US economy.

President-elect Joe Biden presented his economic team and called for immediate relief.

Janet Yellen, Mr Biden's pick for Treasury secretary, warned that "inaction will produce self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation." "So many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent. It's an American tragedy," she said.

These developments helped counter worries about rising US coronavirus cases that public officials fear will worsen in the coming weeks once the toll from the Thanksgiving holiday surfaces.

AFP

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