Wall Street shuts up as vaccine update fuels optimism

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(AFP)

NEW YORK – Wall Street closed slightly higher on Wednesday, with all three major indices managing their third consecutive day of gains after test data showed Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine offered some protection against the new Omicron variant .

Pfizer and BioNTech said their three-step vaccine was able to neutralize the Omicron variant in a lab test and that they could deliver an improved vaccine in March 2022 if needed.

Investors responded by piling on travel-related stocks. The S&P 1500 Airlines Index closed up 1.96%. Its session high was the highest since November 24, just before the variant was announced.

Markets have been extremely volatile since the discovery of the variant, with investors concerned that Omicron would impose further restrictions in countries and hurt the global recovery.

In a bid to slow its spread, Britain said on Wednesday it could implement tougher measures, including advice for working from home, as early as Thursday.

While Pfizer said Omicron’s protection was reduced in people who had only taken two doses of the vaccine, investors were still somewhat reassured.

With the Nasdaq outperforming the Dow Jones, Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management in Chicago, described the session as a “perfect day at risk.”

“A lot of things revolve around virus news. It’s a reopening business more than anything, ”Nolte said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 35.32 points, or 0.1%, to 35,754.75, the S&P 500 gained 14.46 points, or 0.31%, to 4,701.21 and the Nasdaq Composite added 100.07 points, or 0.64%, to 15,786.99.

The S&P finished less than a point below its closing level before falling sharply. The index fell 4.4% between November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, and Friday, as investors fled risky bets amid Omicron fears and concerns about rising interest rates. after an update from the Federal Reserve last week.

“Equity investors buy into the thesis that rates won’t have to rise much to keep inflation under control. This makes them more comfortable buying stocks, although they are more inclined to buy quality growth stocks than cyclical stocks, ”said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management in Chicago.

The sector’s gains were led by communications services, which rose 0.75%, followed closely by healthcare, up 0.74%. With just three of S&P’s top 11 sectors losing ground that day, the laggards were Financials, down 0.46%, Consumer Staples, down 0.37%, and Utilities, which edged down 0.1%.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said governments should urgently reassess their national responses to COVID-19 and speed up their immunization programs.

So-called reopening stocks, the hardest hit by the pandemic lockdowns, were among the top winners on the S&P on Wednesday. These include Norwegian Cruise Line, up 8%, Carnival Corp, up 5.5% and Royal Caribbean, up 5.2%.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co rose 2.6% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to buy and not to keep.

Stanley Black & Decker rose 3.3% after Sweden’s Securitas agreed to buy its electronic security solutions business for $ 3.2 billion.

Rising issues outnumbered falling on the NYSE by a ratio of 1.68 to 1; on the Nasdaq, a ratio of 1.93 to 1 favored the advances.

The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 36 new highs and 39 new lows.

On the US stock exchanges, 10.3 billion shares changed hands against 11.52 billion on average over the last 20 sessions.

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