U.S. equity marketsÂ rose Wednesday after TreasuryÂ Secretary Steven Mnuchin said direct payments to Americans would begin immediately and as U.K. regulators approved a second COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
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|I:COMP||NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX||12880.401646||+30.18||+0.23%|
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by more than 115Â points, or 0.38%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.24% and 0.35%, respectively. The gains have all three of the major averages contending with record highs.
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|USO||UNITED STATES OIL FUND L.P.||32.96||+0.18||+0.55%|
A bigger than expected drop in oil inventories, over 6 million barrels, giving crude prices,Â a boost along with energy stocks, which were the top performers within the S&P 500’s largeÂ sectors.
On the COVID-19 relief front, Mnuchin said the $600 direct payments to mostÂ Americans as part of the $900 billion COVID-19 aid package would be delivered via direct deposit beginning on Tuesday and that checks would be arriving in the mail as early as this week.
Looking at stocks, the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from the U.K.â€™s health regulator, making it the second vaccination to garner approval from the agency. The vaccine, which has faced questions over discrepancies in clinical trial results, will begin being distributed on Monday.
|REGN||REGENERON PHARMACEUTICALS INC.||478.45||-5.77||-1.19%|
Elsewhere, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said a trial found its therapy drug effective and that the study would continue.
Meanwhile, Intel Corp. shares were in focus for a second day after activist investor Dan Loebâ€™s hedge fund Third Point called on the chipmaker to split itsÂ chip manufacturing operations from its chip design and development business.
|AMD||ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES INC.||92.64||+2.02||+2.22%|
Fox Corp., the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News, averaged 1.9 million viewers per day and 3.6 million viewers in prime time, both records, according to Nielsen data released Tuesday. It was the fifth straight year that Fox beat out all other news and basic cable channels.
Looking at analyst calls, heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. was named a â€œtop 2021 ideaâ€ at Baird, which raised its price target to $220 from $206. Clothing and accessories designer Tapestry Inc. received a price target increase to $35 from $27 at Guggenheim.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 16 cents to $48.16Â per barrel and gold was up $11.50Â cents at $1,894.50 per ounce.
In economic news, manufacturing in the Midwest showed continued improvement rising to 59.5 in December, according to the Chicago PMI. A reading over 50 signals expansion.
European markets were little changed with the Euro STOXX 50 down 0.03%.
In Asia, Hong Kongâ€™s Hang Seng rallied 2.18% and Chinaâ€™s Shanghai Composite index climbed 1.05%. Japanâ€™s Nikkei lagged, falling 0.45%.