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US: Stocks end up on vaccine progress, Yellen nomination

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Wall Street stocks advanced on Monday following another upbeat announcement about a new coronavirus vaccine and President-elect Joe Biden's selection of Janet Yellen to be treasury secretary.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks advanced on Monday following another upbeat announcement about a new coronavirus vaccine and President-elect Joe Biden's selection of Janet Yellen to be treasury secretary.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.1 per cent to 29,591.27.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.6 per cent to 3,577.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.2 per cent at 11,880.63.

British drugs group AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said they will seek regulatory approval for their coronavirus vaccine after it showed up to 90 per cent effectiveness.

The news comes on the heels of similar announcements by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that have supported stocks the last couple of weeks despite mounting virus case totals that have prompted renewed restrictions on movement in some states.

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Markets also applauded Ms Yellen's expected appointment at Treasury, confirmed to AFP by a financial source with knowledge of the decision made by Biden.

Ms Yellen, the former head of the Federal Reserve, is a known quantity on financial markets and "has been favourable to the idea of fiscal stimulus," said Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services.

Mr Volokhine expects Ms Yellen to sail through her Senate confirmation and said investors are breathing a sigh of relief that Mr Biden did not pick a nominee with a more confrontational posture towards finance, such as US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Analysts also cited optimism over the holiday shopping season, which officially kicks off Friday.

The National Retail Federation projected holiday sales would rise between 3.6 per cent to 5.2 per cent over 2019 to between US$755.3 billion and US$767.7 billion.

The trade group said households have cash from a strong stock market and will get a boost from having spent less than normal on travel and entertainment due to Covid-19.

Retailers had a good session, with Macy's gaining 15.0 per cent, Gap 6.9 per cent and Best Buy 2.4 per cent.

AFP

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