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Stocks End Up on Vaccine Agreement, Possible Stimulus Deal

Stocks rise Wednesday as investors look past U.S.-China tensions to Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine agreement with the U.S. government.

Stocks finished higher Wednesday as investors put aside their concerns about U.S.-China tensions to focus on a coronavirus vaccine candidate agreement.

Equities had been given a boost earlier in the session after Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Free Report reached a coronavirus vaccine agreement with the U.S. government.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 165 points, or 0.62%, to 27,005, the S&P 500 rose 0.57% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.24%.

The S&P 500 has closed higher for four straight sessions.

Pfizer was the biggest gainer in the Dow, rising 5.1%, after the drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Free Report reached an agreement to receive $1.95 billion from the U.S. government for 600 million doses of their developing coronavirus vaccine once it's approved by regulators.

Global coronavirus infections crossed 15 million on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The U.S. reported more than 1,000 deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday, the first time since June 10 the country surpassed that mark.

President Donald Trump said the coronavirus pandemic "will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.

“Something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is. It’s what we have,” the president said Tuesday during the first daily virus briefing since he called them off in late April.

Meanwhile, Republicans are considering extending current unemployment benefits at $400 per month through December, CNBC reported, which would be lower than the current unemployment benefits of $600 per week.

In addition, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the closure of its consulate in Houston was initiated by the U.S. and Beijing would “react with firm countermeasures” if Washington didn’t “revoke this erroneous decision."

The State Department said the closure of the consulate was "to protect American intellectual property and Americans' private information." It follows the U.S. government's accusations Tuesday that two hackers in China were targeting U.S. companies involved in coronavirus research.

Wall Street also was eyeing talks between Democrat and Republican lawmakers in Washington over the $2 trillion gap in their respective coronavirus rescue packages. Some local governments have had to resume locking down businesses because of coronavirus flareups.

"We have seen some momentum recently with the S&P 500 closing up on the year for the first time since the beginning of June on Monday, and only the second time since February," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. "And while prospects of a new spending bill may counter some negative sentiment, the market doesn’t always move in one direction.

"The decidedly more cautious tone from the Trump administration on the coronavirus front could be giving the market pause because although the administration may in fact only now be saying what many Americans already feel, it can be unnerving to have it vocalized nonetheless. Coupled with rising tensions with China, there is enough out there for some investors to want to sit out for a round or two," Loewengart added.

Earnings reports from Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Free Report, Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report and Chipotle  (CMG) - Get Free Report are expected after the closing bell Wednesday.

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