Stocks open higher; S&P 500 approaches another all-time high

Investors are optimistic about the development of a possible coronavirus vaccine despite caution about the short-term economic impact of rising virus cases in the United States and Europe.

The future “seems incredibly bright and bullish,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report.

On Wall Street, futures for the S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 1.1%. For the S&P 500, that would erase losses from Monday to push it above the high it notched on Friday.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 in London rose 1.9% to 6,387 and Frankfurt’s DAX added 1% to 13,418. The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.1% to 5,577.

Sentiment was boosted after the European Medicines Agency said it will convene a meeting on Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough data about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved.

The agency also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc.

Moderna, said Monday it is ready to apply for emergency approval in the United States and Britain. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are asking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.8% to 3,451.94 after an index of Chinese manufacturing activity by a business magazine, Caixin, hit a decade high in November. A separate survey Monday by the government statistics agency showed activity at a three-year high.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.3% to 26,787.54.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.9% to 26,567.68 after the Chinese territory on Monday announced the closure of government offices and restrictions on restaurants and other businesses to stop a new spike in coronavirus infections.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 1.7% to 2,634.25 after South Korea reported exports rose 4% in November over a year earlier, rebounding from October’s decline.

India’s Sensex added 1% to 44,610.18. and the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney rose 1.1% to 6,588.50 after Australia’s central bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 0.1%.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report that the world economy will bounce back to its pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year, though the recovery will be uneven across the countries and risks remain.

In Washington, Powell said in a statement Monday economic prospects are “extraordinarily uncertain” after the pace of improvement moderated. He said a full recovery is unlikely until the public is confident the disease is under control.

Powell was due to appear Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The panel oversees the $2 trillion aid package approved by Congress in March.

In energy markets, oil continued to edge down as OPEC countries remained locked in talks on whether to delay production increases as demand remains low.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 11 cents to $45.23 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 19 cents on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, sank 3 cents to $47.85 per barrel in London. It dropped 59 cents in the previous session.

The dollar edged up to 104.38 yen from Monday’s 104.34 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1967 from $1.1946.

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