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The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 30,000 points for the first time Tuesday as investors were encouraged by the latest progress on coronavirus vaccine development and news that the U.S. transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden will finally begin. Traders were also encouraged by news that Biden had selected Janet Yellen, a widely respected former Federal Reserve chair, as treasury secretary. The Dow rose more than 400 points, or 1.4%, to trade just over 30,000 late Tuesday morning. The S&P 500 index, which has a far greater impact on 401(k) accounts than the Dow, rose 1.3%.
On Monday, the head of the federal General Services Administration acknowledged that Biden is the apparent winner of this month’s presidential election. That allows the incoming president to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20, despite ongoing efforts by President Donald Trump to overturn the election.
Stocks have been pushing higher this month, driving the S&P 500 up by more than 10%, as investors have grown more hopeful that the development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments will help pave the way for the economy to recover next year.
The latest vaccine developments are also tempering concerns over rising virus cases in the U.S., as well as in Asia and other parts of the world, and over new government restrictions on businesses aimed at limiting the spread.
On Monday, drugmaker AstraZeneca reported surprisingly good results from ongoing vaccine studies. It said its potential vaccine, which is being developed with Oxford University, was up to 90% effective. Unlike rival candidates, AstraZeneca’s doesn’t have to be stored at ultracold temperatures, making it easier to distribute.
Last week, Pfizer and Moderna both reported study results showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. And, over the weekend, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received U.S. government approval for emergency use of its COVID-19 treatment. The drug, which Trump received when he was sickened last month, is meant to try to prevent hospitalization and worsening disease in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.
Trading is expected to be light on Wall Street this week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, when U.S. stock markets will be closed. They will reopen on Friday for a half-day session.
In European markets, France’s CAC 40 added 1.2%, while Germany’s DAX rose 1.1%. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.3%. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 2.5%,. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.3% and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.6%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged up 0.4%.
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