Wall Street jumps on J&J vaccine cheer, stimulus optimism

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s major averages rose 1.5% on Monday as bond markets calmed after a month-long selloff, while encouraging updates on the vaccine and stimulus fronts strengthened bets over a swift economic recovery.

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Shares of cruise liner and hotel operators, and carriers including Carnival Corp, Hilton, Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines gained between 1.8% and 4.6%.

Johnson & Johnson rose 1.8% as it began shipping its single-dose vaccine after it became the third authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the United States over the weekend.

President Joe Biden scored his first legislative win as the House of Representatives passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package early Saturday. The bill now moves to the Senate.

U.S. bond yields eased on Monday after a swift rise last month on expectations of accelerated inflation due to bets on an economic rebound. The U.S. 10-year treasury yield eased to 1.446% after hitting a one-year high of 1.614%.

“The angst over rising yields is going to subside with yield levels clearly calming down while positive vaccine and stimulus updates will also support (markets) as it’s very good news for the economy and corporate earnings,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

All major S&P sectors were higher with those that stand to benefit more from an economic rebound outperforming. Financials, energy and materials gained between 2% to 3%.

Wall Street’s main indexes ended lower last week, with the Nasdaq suffering its worst week in four months, as a rise in long-dormant yields signaled bonds are more serious investment competition, sparking a pullback in high-valuation tech stocks.

Apple, Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc rebounded between 0.4% and 2% on Monday.

At 9:40 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 503.46 points, or 1.63% , to 31,435.83, the S&P 500 gained 56.93 points, or 1.49%, to 3,868.08 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 194.58 points, or 1.47%, to 13,386.92.

Investors will look to ISM’s U.S. manufacturing activity data for February at 10 a.m. ET which is expected to be largely unchanged from January.

Warren Buffett’s enthusiasm for the future of America and his company Berkshire Hathaway Inc has not been dimmed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to his annual letter to investors. Berkshire’s shares rose about 2.3%.

Perrigo Company Plc jumped about 9% as the consumer healthcare products company said it would sell its underperforming generic drugs business for $1.55 billion.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 9.4-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 9.2-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 102 new highs and 12 new lows.

(This story corrects headline to say Wall St “jumps”, instead of “set for higher open”)

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