Stocks soar to record highs as coronavirus vaccine hopes build

By Jonathan Garber FOXBusiness

U.S. equity markets rallied to record highs Monday after a report said a COVID-19 vaccine could come before the November election and President Trump announced a “major breakthrough” in the fight against the virus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained as many as 234 points, or 0.84%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were higher by 0.85% and 1.33%, respectively, extending further into record territory.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES28197.47+267.14+0.96%
SP500S&P 5003422.93+25.77+0.76%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX11340.740502+28.94+0.26%

The early gains came after a Financial Times report said AstraZeneca plc’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine is being considered by Trump for fast-track designation in an effort to get an immunization to market ahead of the November election.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AZNASTRAZENECA PLC56.56+0.85+1.53%

The report added to investor enthusiasm that emerged on Sunday evening after Trump announced an emergency authorization to use convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients.

“This is a powerful therapy that transfuses very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection,” Trump said just over 24 hours before the start of the Republican National Convention.

Elsewhere on the vaccine front, Moderna Inc. announced enrollment for its Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial, expected to begin in September, crossed the 40% level.

Other drug makers producing COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including Pfizer Inc., BioNTech SE and Johnson & Johnson were also in focus.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MRNAMODERNA INC.64.52-1.93-2.90%
PFEPFIZER INC.38.77-0.12-0.30%
BNTXBIONTECH70.97-2.05-2.81%
JNJJOHNSON & JOHNSON151.23-0.52-0.34%

Meanwhile, Apple Inc. surged to record highs as investors raced to beat Monday’s deadline to get in on the 4-for-1 split, which will take place at the close of business on Friday.

Tesla Inc. shares hit their own record high after Wedbush said they could hit $3,500 apiece in a bull-case scenario. The electric-car maker will split its stock 5-for-1 at Friday’s close.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AAPLAPPLE INC.501.69+4.21+0.85%
TSLATESLA INC.1,990.13-59.85-2.92%
BXBLACKSTONE GROUP53.39+0.42+0.79%

In mergers and acquisitions, private-equity firm Blackstone Group Inc. reached a deal to acquire the consumer health-care business of Japanese drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. for 242 billion Japanese yen ($2.3 billion).

Looking at commodities, gold jumped $13.90 to $1,960.90 an ounce while West Texas Intermediate crude oil tacked on 45 cents to $42.79 a barrel as two storms forced production offline in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Treasurys were little change with the yield on the 10-year note holding near 0.64%.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX paced the advance, up 2.45%, while France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE surged 2.31% and 1.91%, respectively.

Asian markets were higher across the board with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbing 1.74%, Japan’s Nikkei adding 0.28% and China’s Shanghai Composite edging up 0.14%.

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