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Nasdaq, S&P Hit Record Close, Dow Modestly Higher on Black Friday

The Nasdaq posts its 45th record close of the year in Friday's shortened trading session.

Stocks finished higher Friday in lighter-than-normal volume following the Thanksgiving holiday.

U.S. stock markets closed at 1 p.m. ET on Friday and bond markets closed an hour later.

The Nasdaq posted its 45th record close of the year, finishing up 0.92% to 12,205. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has closed higher for four straight sessions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which briefly slipped during the session, finished up 37 points, or 0.13%, to 29,910, while the S&P 500 gained 0.24% to 3,638.

Equities were coming off a mixed performance Wednesday when the Dow dropped below 30,000. The Dow has risen nearly 13% in November and was headed for its best month since January 1987. 

A rise in U.S. jobless claims for the second week in a row for the first time since the summer capped gains, as did a decline in household incomes. The data indicated that a resurgence in the coronavirus was having an effect on the labor market.

In addition, questions surrounding the effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get AstraZeneca PLC Report and the University of Oxford weighed on optimism.

U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca fell Friday after the U.K. drugmaker acknowledged manufacturing discrepancies following favorable results in the latest trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

American depositary receipts of AstraZeneca declined 2% in trading Friday.

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AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told Bloomberg in an interview that the company likely was going to conduct an additional global trial as it seeks to confirm the shot's 90% efficacy rate.

The company acknowledged that a lower dosage level that appeared more effective resulted from a manufacturing discrepancy. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford didn’t initially disclose the error and other key details.

Data released earlier this week revealed that when a half dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine was followed by a full dose a month later it showed 90% effectiveness, compared with 62% effectiveness for two full doses.

The number of confirmed global deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, rose to 1.438 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed cases of the virus across the world have risen to 61,289,237.

The U.S. death toll is 263,755, the most in the world. The number of infected people in the U.S. was 12,927,917.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the number of people hospitalized in the U.S. from Covid-19 surpassed 90,000 for the first time.

Black Friday, meanwhile, already has proven to be one for the record books as the pandemic has prompted consumers to crack open their laptops and virtual wallets, choosing safety and comfort over door-crasher deals and crowds.

Adobe Analytics said it expects online sales to shatter all records this year, with online sales even before the Thanksgiving holiday exceeding $62.5 billion, a 32.6% gain from this time last year.

Online holiday sales already have jumped nearly 50% year on year since Sunday, with more to come this weekend. From Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, online sales are expected to total $189 billion, a 31% year-over-year gain equal to two years’ growth in one season, according to Adobe.