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Tesla shares soar on S&P 500 addition; Dow hits record on reignited vaccine hopes

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U.S. stocks catapulted to records Monday on news that a second COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed promise, bolstering hopes of an economic recovery even as new infections surged around the world.

Separately, shares of Tesla soared 12% in after-hours trading after S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that the electric carmaker would join the S&P 500 index on Dec. 21.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 470.63 points, or 1.6%, to finish at a new all-time high of 29,950.44, eclipsing its Feb. 12 record close before the coronavirus pandemic battered the global economy. The S&P 500 added 1.2% to 3,626.91, notching another record.

The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.8% to 11,924.13, lagging the rest of the market amid lessened interest for tech stocks.

The Dow rose to a record for the first time in nine months after pharmaceutical company Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data. Markets rallied as they did when Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this month that their potential vaccine had a similar effectiveness rate. Moderna shares jumped 10%.

Small-company stocks, travel companies such as cruise lines and others that stand to benefit from a reopening of the economy led the way higher. At the same time, pandemic-winning stocks that benefited from lockdown orders such as Amazon and Zoom Video Communications lagged as they no longer looked like the only safe bets to play.

Having similar results from two companies is reassuring, said Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president.

“Additional positive news on the Covid-19 vaccine front is more evidence that an end to the pandemic is on the horizon and that the economy can eventually reopen without fears of further lockdowns,” David Trainer, chief executive of New Constructs, an investment research firm, said in a note.
While approval for the vaccine can come within weeks, the rollout of the drug will take more time. The U.S. has reported more than 11 million cases and more than 246,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

“While this is clearly very good news, the vaccine has not yet been submitted for approval, meaning it will be weeks – or even months – before it is ready to be distributed,” Adam Vettese, analyst at multi-asset investment platform eToro, said in a note.

“Until it is available for widespread use, then I expect markets to remain volatile and to reflect the general nervousness currently felt by investors.”

Even before the vaccine news, markets had been rising as investors welcomed the signing on Sunday of an agreement establishing the world’s biggest trade bloc, a group of 15 countries that includes China, Japan, South Korea, 10 countries in Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia. The United States, the No. 1 economy, is not a part of it.

Called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the pact mostly will bring already low tariffs lower over a 20-year period. It is expected to have a positive but incremental effect on trade in the region.

Meanwhile, data released Monday showed Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, grew at an upbeat 21% annual pace in the last quarter, the first quarter of growth in nearly a year.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 jumped 2.1% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong picked up 0.9%. The Kospi in South Korea surged 2% and in Australia the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.2%. The Shanghai Composite index gained 1.1%.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 jumped 1.7%, and Germany’s DAX returned 0.5%. The FTSE 100 in London gained 1.7%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed 3% to settle at $41.34 a barrel amid hopes that a healthier economy would burn more fuel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 2.4% to settle at $43.82 a barrel.

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Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine

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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.

The inoculations were administered by a household doctor at Windsor Castle, a royal source said.
To prevent inaccuracies and further speculation, Her Majesty, who 94, decided that she would let it be known that she has had the vaccination, the source added. Her husband is 99 years old.
The couple’s son, Prince Charles, tested positive for coronavirus and went into isolation in March. The 72-year-old later said he was lucky to only experience mild symptoms, adding he’d “got away with it quite lightly.”
Meanwhile, their grandson Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, also tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year, UK media reported, though exactly when he contracted the virus is unclear.
The UK has recorded more than 3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 80,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The UK reported 1,325 coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday — its highest ever daily increase in deaths.
Health officials face a deadly start to 2021 as a new coronavirus variant, first detected in the UK, sweeps the nation.
In the capital, London’s mayor declared a “major incident” on Friday, warning that hospitals in the city were close to being overrun.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,” Khan added. “If we do not take immediate action now, our [National Health Service] could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger

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Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.

The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.

“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”

It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.

Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.

The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.

Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.

On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/03/dozens-killed-in-suspected-jihadist-attack-in-niger

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Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections

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People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.

The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.

He’s focussing on security and education.

Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.

“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.

Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.

Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/27/niger-votes-in-presidential-and-legislative-elections

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