Stocks rise on Wall Street as S&P 500 hits record high

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A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Asian stock markets declined Friday as questions about the effectiveness of one possible coronavirus vaccine weighed on investor optimism. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

BEIJING – The S&P 500 rose to a record high Friday as investors continue to look forward to the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and relief for the global economy.

The benchmark index rose 8.70 points, or 0.2%, led by gains in technology companies, and closed at an all-time high of 3,638.35. The Nasdaq also closed at a record helped by gains in Apple, Tesla, Zoom and other tech companies.

Positive developments on the vaccine front have driven double-digit gains in the major indexes this month as investors look forward to progress in gaining control over the pandemic that plunged the global economy into its deepest slump since the 1930s. That optimism persisted this week even as one vaccine candidate suffered a setback and cases of coronavirus remain at elevated levels.

Meanwhile, retailers were hoping that their slumping sales get a boost from shoppers on Black Friday but early indications are that store traffic was light.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which earlier this week crossed 30,000 for the first time, rose 37.90 points, or 0.1%, to 29,910.37. The Nasdaq gained 111.44, or 0.9%, to 12,205.85.

U.S. markets closed at 1 p.m. Eastern after being shut for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Health care companies also posted solid gains. Moderna jumped 16.4% and Pfizer rose 1.9%. The two companies earlier this month released results showing their COVID-19 vaccine candidates were highly effective in tests. The shares got a boost Friday after a competing vaccine suffered a setback.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca also this week released positive test results about their vaccine. But researchers have questioned how Oxford and AstraZeneca calculated the effectiveness of their vaccine. The AstraZeneca CEO said the company might conduct another trial. AstraZeneca shares were flat.