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* Vaccine could reach first Americans by mid-December
* Tesla nears $500 billion in market cap
* Surging coronavirus cases cap stock market gains
* Dow up 0.85%, S&P 500 up 0.31%, Nasdaq up 0.06%
NEW YORK, Nov 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose in a choppy
session on Monday as hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine boosted
economically sensitive sectors such as energy and industrials,
but a pullback in megacap shares held gains in check.
Cyclical sectors led gains, with energy ahead by
more than 5% and industrials and financials
each up more than 1%, as data showed monthly business activity
expanded at the fastest rate in more than five years.
Energy shares also got a boost from oil prices, which have
risen on anticipation a vaccine will help demand recover.
But declines in technology and tech-related heavyweight
names such as Apple Inc and Facebook Inc muted
gains as investors rotated out of stocks seen as safe bets
following a coronavirus-led crash earlier this year.
"More of a cyclical day, or value day, than a growth day,
but not overwhelmingly. We've had two weeks of a cyclically
dominated market and that was initiated by the vaccine," said
Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel
in New York.
"The market is battling between those two styles of
investing depending on the outlook of the virus versus the
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 247.3 points,
or 0.85%, to 29,510.78, the S&P 500 gained 10.95 points,
or 0.31%, to 3,568.49 and the Nasdaq Composite index
added 6.72 points, or 0.06%, to 11,861.69.
Evidence of high efficacy rates in experimental COVID-19
vaccines had lifted the S&P 500 to a record high this
month and brought the blue-chip Dow close to breaching
30,000 points for the first time, breathing new life into
cyclical stocks that were beaten down during the recession.
AstraZeneca Plc on Monday became the latest major
drugmaker to say its vaccine could be around 90% effective,
while the U.S. health regulator is likely to approve in
mid-December the distribution of Pfizer Inc's vaccine.
Volume is expected to be on the lighter side given a trading
week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 26.
Sentiment was dented by new lockdowns to contain a surge in
coronavirus infections with Nevada on Sunday becoming the latest
state to tighten curbs on casinos, restaurants and bars, while
imposing a broader mandate for face-coverings over the next
Hopes of more monetary stimulus were dampened after Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week pulled the plug on some of
the Federal Reserve's pandemic emergency lending programs.
Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Barkin said
on Monday that households could struggle over the next several
months without more government aid to provide support until a
vaccine becomes widely available.
Tesla Inc surged 6.6%, inching closer to hitting
$500 billion in market capitalization ahead of its inclusion in
the S&P 500 next month.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a
2.96-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.06-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 163 new highs and 10 new lows.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Richard Chang)