Vaccine hopes lift US stocks as travel shares gain

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NEW YORK (AFP) - Travel shares were among the winners on Wednesday (July 15) as Wall Street stocks advanced again following progress on a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 26,869.83, up 0.9 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 also gained 0.9 per cent to end the day at 3,226.55, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.6 per cent to 10,550.49.

Investors cheered an announcement late Tuesday from Moderna that it will enter the final stage of human trials for its Covid-19 vaccine later this month. The statement came as results were published from an earlier trial intended to prove the vaccine was safe and triggered antibody production.

Moderna shares jumped 6.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines gained 9.6 per cent and Marriott International won 7.9 per cent.

Travel stocks have been among the biggest losers amid the economic shutdown and social distancing protocols that are expected to be maintained until there is a vaccine.

The Federal Reserve's "beige book" survey showed activity pickup up nationwide as some businesses reopened following the upheaval of coronavirus closures, but "outlooks remained highly uncertain, as contacts grappled with how long the Covid-19 pandemic would continue and the magnitude of its economic implications."

Among other individual stocks, Goldman Sachs advanced 1.4 per cent after reporting a 41 per cent surge in second-quarter revenues to US$13.3 billion (S$18 billion) due to strength in investment underwriting and trading.

Apple rose 0.7 per cent after a European court annulled an EU order that Apple repay Ireland €13 billion (S$20 billion) in back taxes.

The ruling, a major setback for Brussels, could face another appeal at the top European Court of Justice.

Walmart was flat as it announced it would require face masks at US stores starting next week, adding momentum to efforts by public health experts to limit the spread of Covid-19.

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