Nasdaq surges to record ahead of coronavirus stimulus talks

The Nasdaq Composite rallied to a record Tuesday as investors weighed the latest proposal for COVID-19 relief.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has already spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was scheduled to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer after the closing bell. Mnuchin was also expected to attend.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq surged 1.25%, edging out its record-high close helped by a jump in Apple Inc. after it asked suppliers to increase iPhone production by 30% in the first half of 2021 to 96 million units, according to a Nikkei report citing people familiar with the matter. Chip stocks also rose in tandem.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile climbed 339 points, or 1.14%, while the S&P 500 added 1.3%. Both of the indexes finished just shy of their own all-time highs. The advance snapped the S&P 500’s four-day losing streak, which was the longest since September.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers put forth two bills, totaling $908 billion, for coronavirus relief. The plan includes a $748 billion package that extends an additional $300 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans and gives an extra $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits. A second bill, totaling $160 billion, grants aid to state and local governments and provides protections for businesses.

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Looking at stocks, Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine has no specific safety concerns that would preclude emergency use authorization approval, according to a briefing published by U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff. Data from the vaccine’s clinical study will be reviewed Thursday.

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Shares of companies benefitting most from a reopening of the economy– including airlines and cruise operators–gained.

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In mergers and acquisitions, Eli Lily & Co. reached an agreement to buy Prevail Therapeutics for $1.06 billion, or $22.50 per share. The deal represents an 80% premium to where Prevail shares settled Monday.

CEO David Ricks told FOX Business the company is “quite interested in gene therapy” as the deal gives the drugmaker a leading treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Energy majors Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. ended mixed as West Texas Intermediate crude oil added 63 cents to $47.62 per barrel, trading near its highest level since March.

Meanwhile, gold climbed $23.60 to $1,852.30 an ounce.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.28% while France’s CAC 40 ticked up 0.04% and Germany’s DAX 30 added 1.06%.

Asian markets ended lower across the board with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng losing 0.69%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 falling 0.16% and China’s Shanghai Composite slipping 0.06%.

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