Wall Street edges higher on growing vaccine bets, Boeing gains

The Dow and the S&P 500 inched higher on Wednesday as Boeing rose after it won U.S. approval to resume flights of its 737 MAX jet, while growing optimism that a working vaccine was within reach also lifted the mood.

The planemaker BA.N advanced 1% as it geared up to resume deliveries of the best-selling jet again after a 20-month grounding following two fatal crashes.

The news also lifted the S&P 1500 airlines index .SPCOMAIR 3.5%, with American Airlines AAL.O rising 4.3% and Southwest Airlines LUV.N adding 3% as the carriers laid out plans to fly the aircraft again.

Earlier in the day, Pfizer Inc PFE.N said it would apply for emergency U.S. authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine within days and disclosed final results from a late-stage trial that showed it was 95% effective. The drugmaker’s shares rose 1.7%.

The announcement comes after Moderna Inc MRNA.O on Monday released preliminary data for its COVID-19 vaccine, showing similar effectiveness.

“The biggest positive news is Pfizer is not only going to get approval for the vaccine but the vaccine coming at 95% effectiveness which is terrific,” said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist, MAI Capital Management, New York.

Meanwhile, the number of reported global daily deaths from the coronavirus stood at its highest ever on Tuesday, as the global epicenter the United States entered winter.

At 11:54 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 79.53 points, or 0.27%, to 29,862.88, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 5.49 points, or 0.15%, to 3,615.02 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 12.90 points, or 0.11%, to 11,912.24.

Target Corp TGT.N rose 4.4% after the big-box retailer blew past expectations for quarterly profit and sales, as its quick delivery services boosted online shopping.

Discount store operator TJX Companies Inc TJX.N rose about 4% after topping estimates for quarterly results.

“With earnings announcements coming in better than expected from the retail space and the positive news on Boeing, it should drive interest in cyclicals,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth, New York.

S&P sectors sensitive to economic growth, such as financials .SPSY, industrials .SPLRCI and energy .SPNY provided some of the biggest boosts to the S&P 500.

Lowe’s Cos Inc LOW.N tumbled 6.4% as the home improvement chain forecast holiday-quarter earnings largely below analysts’ estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 2.2-to-1 ratio and by a 1.6-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 190 new highs and nine new lows.

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