NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session mostly higher on Wednesday (Dec 2) as investors weighed signs of economic weakness caused by rising Covid-19 cases against further progress on vaccines.
After opening lower, the S&P 500 pushed to a second straight record at 3,669.01, up 0.2 per cent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 per cent to 29,883.79, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1 per cent to 12,349.37.
Payroll services firm ADP said private employment rose by 307,000 positions last month, seasonally adjusted, though that gain lagged the expected level and was slower than October's upwardly revised gain of 404,000.
Investors also took in a fairly downcast Federal Reserve report on economic conditions, with four of 12 regions seeing little or no growth, while four others saw activity begin to dip last month.
But markets cheered news Britain cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine beginning next week, a major step in efforts to move the global economy beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
That news also lifted Pfizer shares 3.5 per cent.
Another big gainer was Dow member Boeing, which surged 5.1 per cent as American Airlines undertook a test flight of the 737 Max for media in the latest effort to reassure the flying public following two deadly crashes that led to a lengthy grounding of the plane.
Shares also got support from news Boeing is close to announcing new orders with Ryanair to supply the Irish carrier additional Max planes.
Salesforce dropped 8.6 per cent after it announced a US$27.7 billion (S$37 billion) acquisition of Slack Technologies, giving the business software giant a broader array of tools as the pandemic fuels a remote work trend.
Some analysts questioned the transaction, including whether the price was too high. Slack fell 2.6 per cent.