US stocks resume climb as investors cheer COVID-19 vaccine progress

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US stocks resume climb as investors cheer COVID-19 vaccine progress
Brendan McDermid/Reuters
  • US stocks climbed on Wednesday after Pfizer and BioNTech disclosed positive final-analysis data from a trial of their coronavirus vaccine.
  • The companies' vaccine was 95% effective at protecting against COVID-19 in patients in a late-stage trial, Pfizer said Wednesday. The firms said they planned to apply for emergency use authorization "within days."
  • The news lifted major indexes and spurred investors to push more cash into small-caps and cyclical stocks.
  • Boeing surged after the Federal Aviation Administration approved its 737 Max model for flight after a 20-month grounding.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities gained on Wednesday as a final analysis of Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine revived hopes for near-term distribution.

The companies' experimental vaccine was 95% effective at protecting participants in a late-stage trial against COVID-19, Pfizer announced Wednesday morning. The firms said they aimed to apply for emergency use authorization in the US "within days." While the Food and Drug Administration's vetting process is set to take weeks, the historically quick vaccine development suggests vulnerable populations could receive the shot in early 2021.

The market's vaccine-fueled rally kicked off on November 9, when Pfizer described early data from trials of its vaccine candidate. The news spurred an exodus from growth stocks to value names and cyclicals. Though equities on Tuesday dipped from record levels, the latest vaccine update brought prices within spitting distance of all-time highs.

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Here's where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 p.m. ET market open on Wednesday:

Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: Buy these 21 stocks set to soar at least 50% as their earnings rebound from a COVID-induced rout

Pfizer and BioNTech climbed on the news. The morning announcement also extended gains across index futures.

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Small-cap stocks led the market's uptick as investors continued rotating into riskier names. The Nasdaq composite once again lagged behind its peers, a reversal from the tech-fueled rallies throughout the summer.

Though Pfizer's announcement brought the US even closer to distributing a vaccine, the market's reaction was decidedly less enthusiastic than after past vaccine updates.

"It's been a frantic few weeks, with the hype around the election barely easing off before vaccine euphoria took over," said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda Europe. "Perhaps we're now seeing a little fatigue kicking in ahead of what is likely to be a lively end to the year."

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Read more: A 28-year-old hedge fund co-investing chief shares how he advanced from community college to Wall Street — and broke down his two-pronged approach to managing the fund's volatility strategies

Boeing leaped after the Federal Aviation Administration decided its 737 Max jet could fly again after its 20-month grounding.

Bitcoin surged above $18,000 for the first time since its late-2017 rally. The world's most popular cryptocurrency cleared the $17,000 resistance level on Tuesday, and all eyes are on whether the token can soon clear $20,000 for the first time.

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Gold prices dipped 0.2%, to $1,876.98 per ounce, as the precious metal remained mired in its narrow trading range. The US dollar fell slightly against a basket of major currencies, and Treasury yields were largely unchanged.

Oil futures gained on the vaccine news. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 2.5%, to $42.46 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international standard, rose 2.6%, to $44.89 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

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