Stocks rallied to record highs Thursday as Congress moved closer to reaching a deal on a COVID-19 relief package.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 147 points, or 0.49%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were higher by 0.57% and 0.84%, respectively. All three of the major averages finished in record territory.
Top lawmakers continued to iron out the final details of the $908 billion bipartisan proposal that is gaining momentum.
The package is made up of two parts – a $748 billion bill that extends unemployment benefits, Paycheck Protection Program funding and potentially direct payments to individuals; and a $160 billion bill that provides funding for state and local governments and liability protections for businesses.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Wednesday that the two sides "made major headway” toward a deal.
Looking at stocks, Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine was expected to receive an endorsement from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel Thursday, paving the way for receiving emergency use authorization a day later. The rollout of the vaccine would then begin almost immediately, joining Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine, which is being delivered nationwide.
Meanwhile, more states joined the antitrust push against Google after Texas and nine other states targeted the tech leader on Wednesday, alleging the search giant conducted anti-competitive business practices in the online advertising market. The lawsuit also accused Google of colluding with Facebook Inc. to manipulate advertising auctions. A spokesperson for Google called the lawsuit “meritless” while Facebook did not respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
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Elsewhere, Tesla continued to climb as it prepares to be added to the S&P 500 on Dec. 21.
Roku Inc. received multiple price-target increases from Wall Street analysts after the company announced late Wednesday that it has reached a deal to add streaming service HBO Max to its platform. The service will be available beginning Thursday.
In earnings, General Mills Inc. reported quarterly results that beat both the top and bottom lines, boosted by sales of pet food and baking. The company forecast 7% organic sales growth for the current quarter, similar to that of the previous quarter.
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Homebuilder Lennar Corp. reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue, benefiting from record-low interest rates and a flight from city centers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
FedEx will report its quarterly results after the closing bell. Analysts surveyed by Refintiiv are expecting adjusted earnings of $4.01 per share on revenue of $19.46 billion. The company is expected to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccine deliveries.
Economic data out Thursday was heavy and the results were mixed.
Initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 12 totaled 885,000, above the 800,000 that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting. Continuing claims fell more than anticipated to 5.508 million.
Elsewhere, housing numbers were stronger than expected with starts rising by a seasonally adjusted 1.547 million and permits increasing by 1.639 million. The Philadelphia Fed index came in at 11.1, shy of the 20.0 that was expected.
Looking at commodities, gold climbed $31.10 to $1,887.20 an ounce while West Texas Intermediate crude oil ticked up 54 cents to $48.36 per barrel.
In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.3% after the Bank of England kept policy on hold, while France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX 30 gained 0.03% and 0.75%, respectively.
Asian markets closed higher across the board with Japan’s Nikkei 225 adding 0.18%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rising 0.82% and China’s Shanghai Composite index advancing 1.12%.