Nasdaq ends at fresh record in bullish Wall Street session

A Salvation Army volunteer in front of the New York Stock exchange in Wall Street on Dec 9, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Nasdaq powered to a fresh record on Tuesday (Dec 15), fuelled by optimism over coronavirus vaccines and revived congressional efforts to pass a spending package to boost the pandemic-hit US economy.

All three major indices finished solidly higher, with the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index gaining 1.3 per cent to 12,595.06.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1 per cent to close at 30,199.31, while the broad-based S&P 500 climbed 1.3 per cent to 3,694.62.

Investors were cheered by positive statements from the US Food and Drug Administration about the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, a strong sign that a group of experts that meets in two days could vote to approve it just days after the agency cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The market also took an optimistic view of reports that bipartisan congressional leaders were set to meet in person Tuesday afternoon for the first time in months to advance a fiscal spending package after numerous earlier failures to reach agreement.

The gains came as the Federal Reserve opened its final two-day monetary policy meeting of 2020.

The US central bank is not expected to change policy, but will update its members' forecasts, shedding light on how they view the risk from the latest spike in US coronavirus cases and the trajectory of the recovery once Covid-19 vaccines become more widely deployed.

Among individual companies, Apple jumped 5 per cent following a Nikkei report that the tech giant plans a 30 per cent boost in iPhone production for the first half of 2021.

Prevail Therapeutics surged 82 per cent after reaching a deal to be acquired by Eli Lilly for about US$880 million (S$1.1 billion).

The transaction will establish a gene therapy programme at Lilly, which rose 6 per cent.

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The Nasdaq set a fresh record closing high on Tuesday, amid a broad-based rally sparked by optimism about a potential government stimulus package and a surge in Apple shares.

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