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Dow Ends Up 500 Points, S&P 500 Finishes Just Shy of 3,000 as Lockdowns Ease

Stocks finish higher as investors embrace moves worldwide to ease coronavirus lockdowns and signs of progress toward a vaccine.

Stocks finished higher Tuesday and the S&P 500 crossed 3,000 for the first time since early March as investors embraced moves by economies across the globe to ease coronavirus lockdowns and signs of progress toward a vaccine.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 529 points, or 2.17%, to 24,995, the S&P 500, which had pushed past 3,000, finished up 1.23% to 2,991 and the Nasdaq rose 0.17%.

With all 50 U.S. states now easing lockdowns in some form or another and countries from Japan to the United Kingdom lifting stay-at-home orders and allowing stores and small businesses to reopen, investors are betting the worst of the pandemic, which has taken nearly 350,000 lives around the world, has passed.

“As is the financial market’s wont these days ... even the slimmest of positive news on the Covid-19 front triggers a bullish immune response and another wave of the peak-virus trade,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda.

Worries remain about a resurgence in infections and an escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing. 

China, on Monday, condemned a move by the United States to add 33 Chinese companies to its so-called entity list, which imposes license requirements on all exports, re-exports and transfers of items coming from the U.S.

White House adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News Tuesday that President Donald Trump was "miffed" with China over the coronavirus outbreak and the trade deal the countries reached in January meant less to him.

Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose to 86.6 in May from 85.7 in April following two months of sharp declines.

“Following two months of rapid decline, the free fall in confidence stopped in May,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “Short-term expectations moderately increased as the gradual reopening of the economy helped improve consumers’ spirits.”

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The New York Stock Exchange reopened its trading floor Tuesday but with only about 25% of the normal trader workforce.

The NYSE closed the floor about two months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic and moved to all-electronic trading. Traders returning Tuesday were wearing masks and following social-distancing guidelines.

Merck  (MRK) - Get Report said it was jumping into the global search for a Covid-19 cure and treatment with the development of two different vaccines to prevent it as well as an oral medication to treat it.

Merck, which has kept to the sidelines of the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said Tuesday it was buying Vienna-based vaccine maker Themis Bioscience for an undisclosed amount, and would collaborate with research nonprofit IAVI to develop two separate vaccines.

It also announced a partnership with privately held Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop an experimental oral antiviral drug against Covid-19.

Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Report began enrolling patients in a trial for its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The Phase 1 portion of the trial will enroll about 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia. The trial will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the company's vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department will not file insider trading charges against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The department informed lawyers for Loeffler and two other senators scrutinized for their coronavirus-era stock trades that they are closing their investigations into the matters. A DOJ investigation into Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) continues, however, the Journal said.