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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tech led the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq higher and crude prices extended their rally on Wednesday, as hopes of potential COVID-19 were tempered by spiking coronavirus infections and the looming threat of new lockdowns.

FILE PHOTO: The Nasdaq building in Times Square is illuminated in blue as part of the “Light It Blue” initiative to honor healthcare workers, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, New York, U.S. April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

The blue-chip Dow was lower.

A return to tech-focused market leaders, which thrived during COVID shutdowns but sold off earlier in the week as investors pivoted to economically-sensitive cyclical stocks, put the Nasdaq out front.

“The magnitude of the moves into cyclicals was probably too far too fast for a two-day move,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta. “It’s not that there’s worries about tech it’s that the other sectors have generated more optimism.”

The prospect of a return to normal appeared to grow after Pfizer Inc’s announcement on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed with BioNTech, showed a 90% success rate in preventing infection during trials.

“We’re on one side of the valley looking at the other side,” Sroka added. “And while COVID is still around and hospitalizations are increasing, the idea of a vaccine coming to market allows investors to look across the valley to the recovery in the other side.”

The news stoked investors’ risk appetite across the board, and sent oil prices, building on two straight sessions of sharp gains, higher.

But that optimism could be waning. The Dow Jones Transportation index, seen by many as a barometer of broader economic health, was sharply lower.

While on Tuesday the yield of benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasuries reached the highest level since March, The U.S. bond market was closed on Wednesday in observance of Veterans’ Day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 97.35 points, or 0.33%, to 29,323.57, the S&P 500 gained 15.83 points, or 0.45%, to 3,561.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 186.34 points, or 1.61%, to 11,740.20.

The momentum of vaccine hopes and encouraging comments from European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde boosted European shares higher for the third straight session, offsetting worries over spiking coronavirus infections.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 1.08% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.55%.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.19%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.17% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.78%.

Crude oil prices edged higher, extended their rally and building on gains sparked by the notion of reviving demand and a steeper-than-expected decline in U.S. inventories.

U.S. crude rose 0.22% to settle at $41.45 per barrel and Brent settled at $43.80 per barrel, up 0.44% on the day.

The dollar gained ground against a basket of currencies and the safe-haven yen weakened on hopes that a medical solution to the pandemic could spark economic growth.

The dollar index rose 0.33%, with the euro down 0.36% to $1.1772.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.15% versus the greenback at 105.49 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3215, down 0.42% on the day.

Gold prices slid, hurt by a stronger dollar and increased risk appetite which drew investors away from the safe-haven metal.

Spot gold dropped 0.6% to $1,864.79 an ounce.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Nick Zieminski