Wall Street's main indexes rose and the tech-heavy Nasdaq hit a record high on Friday as optimism around an economic rebound next year outweighed fears of an expected surge in coronavirus infections following the Thanksgiving holiday.
Five of the 11 major S&P indexes were up by mid-morning, with information technology jumping 0.8% on demand for stay-at-home winners Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Nvidia Corp.
Sentiment was also lifted by President Donald Trump saying he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, the closest he has come to conceding the Nov. 3 election, market participants said.
"While it was certainly the expectation of the vast majority of traders that there would be an easy transfer of power, at the end of the day it gives a little bit of confidence," said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Jersey.
Market volatility, as measured by the CBOE volatility index , slipped to levels last seen in late-February. Trading volumes are expected to be light as the U.S. stock market closes early on Friday.
By 11:03 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.19%, the S&P 500 was up 0.36% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.08%.
Hopes of more stimulus, signs of progress in developing COVID-19 vaccines and encouraging economic data have lifted the three main U.S. stock indexes by more than 10% this month and set the S&P 500 on course for its best November ever.
A rotation into sectors deemed to benefit from an economic recovery, such as industrials and financials, has also powered the Dow to record highs and put it on track for its biggest monthly gain since 1987.
But with the next fiscal stimulus package now expected only after Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, traders said the nascent economic rebound could slow again.
"We have been waiting for stimulus forever and the market's certainly expecting something," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading LLC in New Jersey, adding that "it will probably take even longer."
All eyes will be on the monthly employment report on Dec. 4, with economists polled by Reuters expecting unemployment to dip to 6.8% from 6.9%, but to remain above the 4.5% rate in March, before much of the U.S. economy went into lockdown.
In thin company news, U.S.-listed shares of iQIYI Inc fell 2.3% after Reuters reported Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd had put on hold talks to buy a controlling stake in the video streaming service.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1.11-to-1 on the NYSE and 1.36-to-1 on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 22 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 127 new highs and seven new lows.