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Nasdaq Closes at Record, Dow Falls on Virus Worries

Optimism from passage of a $900 billion pandemic relief package by Congress is dented by the emergence of a new variant strain of the coronavirus.

The Nasdaq closed at a record Tuesday, getting a lift from shares of Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report, but broader trading was mixed as optimism from passage by Congress of a $900 billion pandemic relief package was dented by the emergence of a new variant strain of the coronavirus in the U.K.

The Nasdaq, which also set an intraday record during Tuesday's session, finished up 0.51% to 12,807. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 200 points, or 0.67%, to 30,015, while the S&P 500 edged down 0.21% to 3,687. 

The mutant virus strain prompted many European nations to ban flights to and from Great Britain. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put London and southeast England in full lockdown.

BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said that his company's vaccine, developed with Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report, was "highly likely" to induce an immune response to deal with the new strain.

Newly implemented lockdowns and another grim milestone for U.S. coronavirus infections -- which topped 18 million on Tuesday -- tempered optimism about the $900 billion stimulus package that Congress passed late Monday.

The House and Senate voted to approve the relief package as part of a year-end spending bill of $2.3 trillion.

The White House has said President Donald Trump would sign the legislation.

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The pandemic relief bill includes supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 a week through March, and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans starting as soon as next week.

Growth in the U.S. economy during the third quarter was revised slightly higher to a 33.4% annual pace, vs. a previous reading on gross domestic product of 33.1%.

"The third read on GDP this morning isn’t too surprising, but it is encouraging," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. "While these numbers aren’t reflective of the here and now, they show the resiliency of the economy. 

"But we know things have changed pretty drastically in Q4, so all eyes will be on where GDP shakes out in the new year. With stimulus on the horizon, we could see a boost in consumer spending that could fuel GDP growth, but it remains to be seen if pandemic relief is too little too late," Loewengart added.

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report rose 2.9% Tuesday after a report said the company has targeted 2024 to build a passenger vehicle that has both self-driving technology and uses the tech giant's own battery technology.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that Apple’s Project Titan, which began developing a vehicle in 2014, has progressed to the point where the company will aim to build a car for consumers.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report, the world's No. 1 maker of electric vehicles, finished down 1.5% to $640.34 on Tuesday, a day after closing its first day of trading as part of the S&P 500 down 6.5%.

Tesla Is TheStreet's No. 1 Stock of the Year