Stock market news live updates: Dow reaches fresh closing high as stocks add to year-end advances

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Stocks rose Wednesday, shaking off Tuesday’s mild declines, and the Dow hit a record closing high in one of the final trading days of 2020. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also advanced to close in on their own record levels.

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Incrementally more positive news on the vaccine front helped buoy sentiment on Wednesday, after AstraZeneca’s (AZN) COVID-19 vaccine became the second inoculation to be authorized in the UK.

A day earlier, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all touched intraday record highs before cutting gains and turning negative. Tuesday’s moves lower came after prospects that consumers might receive bigger direct checks to stoke spending appeared to diminish. Though the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 to most Americans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scuttled Democratic senators’ efforts to quickly advance the payment increase in the Senate on Tuesday. He also suggested the chamber would only consider the measure in tandem with other provisions unpopular with Democratic lawmakers.

Trading volume among U.S. equities has been relatively light during this holiday-shortened week, and trading on U.S. exchanges will close all day on Friday for New Year’s Day. With Congress’s $900 billion stimulus bill passed and few notable economic releases and no major earnings releases left on the docket for 2020, investors have attempted to look ahead for new market catalysts.

However, with the S&P 500 already tracking toward a total return of more than 17% through Tuesday’s close, some strategists have struck a more cautious tone for the very near-term heading into the new year.

“This market continues to defy physics. It’s another week and another all-time high,” Tony Zabiegala, senior wealth advisor at Strategic Wealth Partners, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. “But I’m really struggling to understand how we’re in a better spot today — stimulus checks or not — than we were a year ago pre-Covid, pre-lockdowns, all that.”

“I feel that we really pulled forward those 17% of gains from 2021 already,” he added. “Technicals are pointing to a continued market melt-up. However a quick market correction to start off the year wouldn’t surprise me at all. We’ve had slowing economic data and that is the biggest catalyst in my eyes … I’m just struggling to find organic growth catalysts, and it’s being very difficult to find something to grab onto.”

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4:03 p.m. ET: Stocks end higher, Dow hits record closing high

Here’s where the three major indices settled at the end of trading on Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,732.04, up 5.00 points or 0.13%

  • Dow (^DJI): 30,409.56, up 73.89 points or 0.24%

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 12,870.00, up 19.78 points or 0.15%

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1:12 p.m. ET: Stocks hold higher as session rolls on

The three major indices remained higher during Wednesday’s afternoon session, as the materials, energy and industrial sectors led gains in the S&P 500. Visa, Caterpillar and Disney outperformed in the 30-stock Dow.

As of 1:12 p.m. ET, the S&P 500 was higher by about 0.3%, or 11.75 points, while the Dow added more than 160 points, or 0.5%. The Nasdaq gained 0.3% even as each of the Big Tech FAANG stocks –Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google’s parent company Alphabet – gave back some of their year-to-date gains on Wednesday.

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11:01 a.m. ET: AstraZeneca shares jump after vaccine receives UK clearance

Shares of AstraZeneca (AZN.L) increased more than 1% intraday on Wednesday after its COVID-19 inoculation received clearance in the United Kingdom. This marked the first authorization for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. And it is the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the UK, after Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine was cleared earlier this month.

Shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine are set to begin being administered on Monday in the UK.

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10:00 a.m. ET: Pending home sales drop for a third straight month in November

Pending home sales in November slipped for a third consecutive month, and by a wider margin than expected, as housing market activity pulled back slightly after a breakneck growth surge.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), contract signings for new homes declined 2.6% in November from October, whereas consensus economists were looking for pending home sales to stay flat month-over-month, Bloomberg data showed. Over last year, pending home sales remained higher by 16%, though this was short of the 21% rise anticipated.

“The latest monthly decline is largely due to the shortage of inventory and fast-rising home prices,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement. “It is important to keep in mind that the current sales and prices are far stronger than a year ago.”

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9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher, closing in on record levels

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:31 a.m. ET Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,738.73, up 11.69 points or 0.31%

  • Dow (^DJI): 30,419.62, up 83.95 points or 0.28%

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 12,917.15, up 66.66 points or 0.52%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.27 (-0.56%) to $47.73 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$2.20 (+0.12%) to $1,885.10 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.3 bps to yield 0.938%

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8:30 a.m. ET: Goods trade deficit widens to a record in November

The U.S. goods trade gap yawned further to a record in November, with the deficit totaling $84.8 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said Friday. This followed a deficit of $80.4 billion in October, and came in considerably larger than the $81.5 billion gap consensus economists had expected, according to Bloomberg data.

The increase came as imports surged faster than exports, with November imports growing by $5.5 billion over October to $212 billion. This rise came amid a jump in demand for consumer goods, with these imports soaring 17.6% year-over-year.

Exports, meanwhile, rose just $1.1 billion to $127.2 billion, and remain 6.6% lower than they were a year ago.

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7:13 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures rise, shaking off Tuesday’s declines

Here were the main moves in markets as of 7:13 a.m. ET Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,733.5, up 13.5 points or 0.36%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,331.00, up 93 points or 0.31%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,888.00, up 47 points or 0.37%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.45 (+0.94%) to $48.45 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$1.00 (-0.05%) to $1,881.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.6 bps to yield 0.951%

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6:01 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures tick higher

Here were the main moves in markets as the overnight session kicked off Tuesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,724.25, up 4.25 points or 0.11%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,265.00, up 27 points or 0.09%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,855.25, up 14.25 points or 0.11%

© Provided by Yahoo! Finance NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 28: People walk by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan’s financial district on October 28, 2020 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell sharply on Wednesday as fears grow over the worsening situation with the coronavirus pandemic’s new wave across Europe and parts of America. Stocks on Wall Street fell over 900 points at the close of the trading day. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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