Dow and S&P rally to record closes on Moderna COVID vaccine news

Positive results from another COVID-19 vaccine trial boosted United States stocks on Monday as infections surge across the country.

Wall Street's main indexes rallied as more positive news was announced in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

The Dow and S&P 500 indexes rallied to record closes on Monday after Moderna said preliminary trial data showed its COVID-19 vaccine to be 94.5 percent effective.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session up more than 470 points or 1.60 percent at 29,950.44.

The broader S&P 500 index – a proxy for the health of United States retirement and college savings accounts –  gained more than 41 points or 1.16 percent to finish at 3,626.98.

The Nasdaq Composite Index finished the session up 0.80 percent.

Shares of Moderna gained 9.57 percent after the biotech firm became the second US drug company to report positive results from a late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Last week, Pfizer Inc reported that phase-three trial data from the vaccine it is developing with Germany’s BioNTech showed it to be more than 90 percent effective.

The double dose of good news is fuelling hopes that a game-changer is within sight to vanquish the coronavirus pandemic and put the US and global economies on track for “normalisation”.

“After almost a year in which COVID-19 has ravaged the global economy, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel,” Neil Shearing, Group Chief Economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a Monday note.

Shearing also warned that the current optimism may be short-lived as economies grapple with surging infection rates.

“The good news on vaccines is tempered by the fact that they won’t come soon enough to prevent a difficult winter for many economies,” Shearing said.

Infections continue to spike across the US, with confirmed COVID-19 infections topping the 11 million mark over the weekend, according to Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalisations for COVID-19 are also breaking records in the US.

The wave has ushered in more business-sapping restrictions across the nation as state and local authorities try to contain the spread of the disease.

The United Kingdom, as well as Germany, France and other European nations, have also reintroduced lockdown measures to curb spiralling infections.

Members of Mesa Place Church pray outside University Medical Center of El Paso amid the coronavirus outbreak, in El Paso, Texas, the United States [File: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/Reuters]

Pfizer’s news last Monday saw investors rotate out of Big Tech and other “stay-at-home” stocks and snap up shares of companies that have been brutalised by the pandemic, such as airlines, financial firms, and cruise and theatre operators.

Beaten-down-shares continued to lead the market advance on Monday.

Among other stocks making headlines on Monday:

Inovio Pharmaceuticals also gained 14.34 percent on the day after getting clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to begin a mid-stage study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson closed up 0.63 percent after the company launched a new study to test its own experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

Shares of Simon Property Group Inc, the US’s largest mall operator, jumped 5.70 percent after it slashed its purchase price for an 80 percent stake of rival Taubman Centers Inc.

Source: Al Jazeera