Stocks jump as COVID vaccine rollout starts, stimulus talks continue

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US stocks jumped Monday as investors cheered the nationwide rollout of the US’ first COVID-19 vaccine.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 249.95 points, or about 0.8 percent, to 30,296.32 as a Queens nurse became the first person in America to receive Pfizer’s groundbreaking shot.

The benchmark S&P 500 posted an early gain as large as about 0.9 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed as much as 1.1 percent at the beginning of a massive immunization effort that will start with health-care workers and nursing home residents.

Wall Street had been anticipating the distribution of Pfizer and BioNTech’s highly effective vaccine for weeks, but the start of vaccinations appeared to give investors a dose of hope as coronavirus infections and deaths continue to mount.

“Market participants have realized that the COVID-19 situation will unfortunately get worse before it gets better,” said Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at Axi. “At least, with the progress in vaccine development, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Investors are also keeping an eye on stimulus negotiations in Congress, where lawmakers are expected to introduce a $908 billion pandemic relief package in two parts as soon as Monday.

Economists have said more stimulus spending will be crucial as the virus’ continued spread leads to fresh lockdown measures in some parts of the country, raising the prospects of more economic pain.

“The lack of urgency is probably the reason talks are still happening now but there is no excuse now,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. “COVID-19 is wreaking havoc once again which means more restrictions and economic hardship in the coming months.”

Monday’s bounce followed a week of modest losses for stocks in which the S&P fell for three straight days while the Dow ended the week down 171.89 points, or roughly 0.5 percent.

Wall Street followed European markets higher as UK and European Union officials agreed to continue trade negotiations ahead of Britain’s exit from the bloc.

London’s FTSE 100 was recently trading roughly flat after rising as much as 0.5 percent. Germany’s DAX was up about 1 percent as of 9:37 a.m. while Paris’ CAC 40 climbed about 0.7 percent.

With Post wires

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