Vaccine hopes send Dow, S&P 500 to record close

It was a banner day on Wall Street as investors cheered promising news on yet another vaccine.

The Dow closed at its first record high since February, rising 470 points, finishing within striking distance of 30,000. The S&P 500 rallied 41 points also closing at a record. The Nasdaq gained 94 points.

Moderna announced that its experimental vaccine was nearly 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on early data from a late-stage trial. The news came exactly one week after Pfizer released positive results from its clinical trials. But Moderna's vaccine has a key advantage over Pfizer's -it doesn't need ultra-cold storage, which will make it easier to distribute. Shares of Moderna climbed 9.6percent. Pfizer was down 3 percent.

Positive news on the race for a vaccine came amid another grim pandemic update.

By Monday, more than 70,000 people were hospitalized with coronavirus infections in the United States, that's an all-time high, according to Reuters tally.

Total U.S. infections crossed the 11 million mark, just over a week after hitting 10 million, marking the fastest time it took the country to to report an additional 1 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

And yet Wall Street moved higher as investors looked ahead to the future, says Andy Kapyrin, co-head of investments at RegentAtlantic.

"The rise in covid cases is happening in the here and now, and it is absolutely scary news, but markets are looking past this moment of fear to see what does 2021 have in store and what's different, about 2021 in investors’ minds today versus two weeks ago? What's different is that we now expect to have a vaccine rolled out over the course of 2021, which will enable a return back to normalcy."

Travel related stocks were a big beneficiary of that optimism. United led the airlines with a 5 percent gain. Cruise ship operators did even better. Carnival was the biggest gainer - finishing up the day with a near 10 percent rally.

Other leave-the-house stocks such as theater chain operator AMC jumped nearly 5 percent and Walt Disney rose 4-1/2 percent.