S&P 500 closes at another record Friday, gains 2% on week

Stocks rose on Friday as traders wrapped up a strong week amid decreasing political uncertainty and positive vaccine news.

The S&P 500 gained 0.3% to end the day at 3,638.35, notching a record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.9% to 12,205.85 and also closed at an all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher by 37.90 points, or 0.1%, at 29,910.37. Friday’s session ended at 1 p.m. ET.

The Dow and S&P 500 rose 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively, for the week. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, posted a weekly gain of nearly 3%. Earlier in the week, the Dow jumped to an all-time high, breaking above 30,000 for the first time and hit an all-time high.

“What we’re witnessing today, this week and this month, is a continuation in the rise of optimism,” said Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research at Harvest Volatility Management. “The environment for risk assets has been getting better and better” as drugmakers release more positive Covid-19 vaccine data and the risks on the political front ease.

The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), Wall Street’s preferred fear gauge, briefly dipped below 20 on Friday for the first time since late February. It later rebounded to trade at 20.84.

Retailers led the early gains as investors bet on a strong holiday shopping season. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) rose 0.9% and hit an all-time high. Etsy shares popped 10.7%, and Gamestop advanced 9%. Amazon shares gained 0.3%, and Shopify climbed 1.5% after Adobe Analytics said Thanksgiving Day online sales rose to a record $5.1 billion.

Also helping sentiment were comments from President Donald Trump, who said he would leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

“Certainly I will. Certainly I will. And you know that,” Trump said. He added, however, it would be hard for him to concede because “we know there was massive fraud.” Trump did not offer any concrete evidence of widespread voter fraud, however.

Historic month for stocks

Friday’s gains added to the market’s surge this month, which was sparked in part by a slew of positive coronavirus vaccine trial data.

Earlier In November, Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective. Moderna also said its drug was highly effective in a trial.

That data helped push the Dow up 12.9% in November, putting it on track for its biggest monthly gain since January 1987. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are up 11.3% and 11.9%, respectively, in November. Meanwhile, the small-cap Russell 2000 is on track for its best month ever, up about 20%.

November’s sharp gains were led by beaten-down value stocks as the positive vaccine news sparked hope for a strong economic recovery.

The iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) is up 14.6% this month. Its growth counterpart, the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF), has gained 10.1% in that time.

“As we inch closer to that ultimate health solution … we’re starting to see market participation broaden out and rotate into some of the more impaired sectors through the course of this pandemic,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “As we turn the coroner, that is going to allow pent-up economic activity to return.”

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