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Stocks jump as investors cheer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine


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US stocks were set to climb Monday as investors cheered a third promising coronavirus vaccine that could help the global economy return to normal.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 156 points, or about 0.5 percent, to 29,368 as of 7:13 a.m. after AstraZeneca revealed its experimental COVID-19 shot was 70 percent effective on average.

S&P 500 futures also rose about 0.5 percent while futures for the tech-heavy Nasdaq100 ticked up about 0.3 percent following the announcement, which made the British drugmaker the third company in roughly two weeks to publish encouraging data from a late-stage vaccine study.

The early results further boosted Wall Street’s hopes that at least one inoculation for the deadly virus will be ready by the end of the year, allowing the pandemic-battered economy to recover next year as consumers start flying on airplanes, visiting movie theaters and eating in restaurants again.

But investors’ reaction to AstraZeneca’s shot was more muted given that it was less effective than those produced by rival drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, which had efficacy rates of about 95 percent. Pfizer also asked the US Food and Drug Administration to clear its vaccine for emergency use on Friday, a step that could allow it to be distributed as early as mid-December.

View of the stock market in Madrid, SpainView of the stock market in Madrid, SpainEPA

Wall Street also has to digest a record-setting surge in COVID-19 cases across the US ahead of Thanksgiving. Millions of Americans are expected to travel for the holiday this week, prompting fears that infections could soar and lead to more lockdown measures.

“The impact of continued lockdowns will be felt for some time before vaccines become widely available,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi. “The market is having a tug of war right now, trying to establish whether it can look through nearer-term negative data and news.”

European markets also posted modest gains Monday after AstraZeneca’s announcement. Paris’ CAC 40 was recently up about 0.3 percent while Germany’s DAX had climbed nearly 0.4 percent.  London’s FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent as of 7:07 a.m. after rising as much as 0.6 percent.