Stocks rose on Friday as traders wrapped up a strong week amid decreasing political uncertainty and positive vaccine news.
The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all up at least 2% for the week entering Friday’s session. Earlier in the week, the Dow jumped to an all-time high, breaking above 30,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 also notched a record closing high this week, and the Russell 2000 rallied to an all-time high.
“What we’re witnessing today, this week and this month, is a continuation in the rise of optimism,” said Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research at Harvest Volatility Management. “The environment for risk assets has been getting better and better” as drugmakers release more positive Covid-19 vaccine data and the risks on the political front ease.
The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), Wall Street’s preferred fear gauge, dipped below 20 for the first time since late February.
Retailers led the early gains as investors bet on a strong holiday shopping season. Amazon shares advanced 0.7%. Shopify advanced 1.8%, and Gamestop rose 10.5%. Etsy shares were up by 8.4%. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) rose 0.6% and hit an all-time high. On Thanksgiving Day, online sales rose to a record $5.1 billion, according to Adobe Analytics.
Also helping sentiment were comments from President Donald Trump, who said he would leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
“Certainly I will. Certainly I will. And you know that,” Trump said. He added, however, it would be hard for him to concede because “we know there was massive fraud.” Trump did not offer any concrete evidence of widespread voter fraud, however.
Stocks came into Friday’s session riding high in November thanks in part to a slew of positive coronavirus vaccine trial data.
Earlier this month, Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective. Moderna also said its drug was highly effective in a trial.
That data helped push the Dow up 12.8% in November, putting it on track for its biggest monthly gain since January 1987. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq came into the day up 11% and 10.8%, respectively, in November. Meanwhile, the small-cap Russell 2000 is on track for its best month ever, up nearly 20%.
November’s sharp gains were led by beaten-down value stocks as the positive vaccine news sparked hope for a strong economic recovery.
“As we inch closer to that ultimate health solution … we’re starting to see market participation broaden out and rotate into some of the more impaired sectors through the course of this pandemic,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “As we turn the coroner, that is going to allow pent-up economic activity to return.”
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