Wall Street gains on vaccine hopes, improving economic data

(Reuters) – Wall Street opened higher on Wednesday as rising hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine reversed premarket losses, overshadowing fears of another round of lockdowns following a record surge in coronavirus cases in the United States.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German biotech firm BioNTech showed promise and was found to be well tolerated in early-stage human trials.

Pfizer’s shares jumped 4.1% on the news, while BioNTech gained 3%, helping improve the mood on Wall Street after the United States registered 47,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic.

Updates on the progress in various COVID-19 vaccine programs are being closely watched by investors, and have been partly responsible for Wall Street’s recent rally. The S&P 500 closed its best quarter since 1998 on Tuesday.

Investors have also focused on signs of an economic recovery with the easing of coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Data on Wednesday showed that a slump in global manufacturing was easing in June, with U.S. figures hitting their highest level in more than a year.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity jumped to a reading of 52.6 last month from 43.1 in May, ending three straight months of contraction.

On Thursday, all eyes will be on the Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report.

At 10:17 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 113.35 points, or 0.44%, at 25,926.23, the S&P 500 was up 16.78 points, or 0.54%, at 3,117.07. The Nasdaq Composite was up 40.39 points, or 0.40%, at 10,099.15.

Battered cruise line operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Inc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Carnival Corp rose between 3.6% and 6%.

Macy’s Inc edged up 1.7% after it reported a staggering $3.58 billion quarterly loss, led by a $3 billion impairment charge due to COVID-19 induced-store shutdowns.

FedEx Corp jumped 16.0% after posting better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue, helped by a surge in pandemic-fueled home deliveries.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.76-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 7 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and 6 new lows.

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