U.S. equity markets opened higher Wednesday morning after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said direct payments to Americans would begin immediately and as U.K. regulators approved a second COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES30454.4+118.73+0.39%SP500S&P 5003736.44+9.40+0.25%I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX12895.384282+45.16+0.35%Powered by

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by 107 points, or 0.35%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.42% and 0.55%, respectively. The early gains have all three of the major averages contending with record highs.

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Mnuchin said the $600 direct payments to most Americans as part of the $900 billion COVID-19 aid package would be delivered via direct deposit beginning on Tuesday and that checks would be arriving in the mail as early as this week.

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Looking at stocks, the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from the U.K.’s health regulator, making it the second vaccination to garner approval from the agency. The vaccine, which has faced questions over discrepancies in clinical trial results, will begin being distributed on Monday.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %AZNASTRAZENECA PLC50.12+0.22+0.44%REGNREGENERON PHARMACEUTICALS INC.480.20-4.02-0.83%Powered by

Elsewhere, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said a trial found its therapy drug effective and that the study would continue.

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Meanwhile, Intel Corp. shares were in focus for a second day after activist investor Dan Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point called on the chipmaker to split its chip manufacturing operations from its chip design and development business.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %INTCINTEL CORPORATION48.66-0.73-1.48%AMDADVANCED MICRO DEVICES INC.92.06+1.44+1.59%Powered by

Fox Corp., the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News, averaged 1.9 million viewers per day and 3.6 million viewers in prime time, both records, according to Nielsen data released Tuesday. It was the fifth straight year that Fox beat out all other news and basic cable channels.

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Looking at analyst calls, heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. was named a “top 2021 idea” at Baird, which raised its price target to $220 from $206. Clothing and accessories designer Tapestry Inc. received a price target increase to $35 from $27 at Guggenheim.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %CATCATERPILLAR INC.180.69+3.93+2.22%TPRTAPESTRY INC.31.20+1.08+3.59%Powered by

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 20 cents to $47.80 per barrel and gold was up $2.80 cents at $1,885.70 per ounce.

In economic news, manufacturing in the Midwest showed continued improvement rising to 59.5 in December, according to the Chicago PMI. A reading over 50 signals expansion.

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European markets were little changed with the Euro STOXX 50 down 0.03%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rallied 2.18% and China’s Shanghai Composite index climbed 1.05%. Japan’s Nikkei lagged, falling 0.45%.

Source Link:
https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/us-stocks-dec-30-2020

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