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Dow soars past 30,000, a record

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Stocks rose sharply Tuesday — cracking 30,000 for the first time — after President Donald Trump authorized the government to begin the transition processes and as President-elect Joe Biden nominated his pick for treasury secretary, steps Wall Street cheered on as further progress in stabilizing the nation's economy.

At midday, the Dow Jones industrial average had soared nearly 470 points, or 1.6%, to a record 30,060.98. It marked the first time the blue-chip indicator had breached the 30,000 threshold. The S&P 500 increased nearly 55 points, or 1.5%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 climbed 116 points, or nearly 1%.

The official transition process will allow the fledgling Biden administration to access public funds, plug into security briefings and gain access to the expertise of the federal bureaucracy. Investors also appeared to approve of Biden's treasury nominee, Janet Yellen, who had served as the chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, leading the agency during the Obama and Trump administrations.

November's rally has been fueled by the political clarity brought by the presidential election and breakthroughs in the development of coronavirus vaccines. On Monday, AstraZeneca joined Moderna, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in unveiling upbeat data about the effectiveness of its vaccine candidate. The promising announcements have lifted investor sentiment and launched the Dow into double-digit growth for the month.

But even as some of the most badly beaten stocks continue to build momentum on Wall Street, and as hopes for an end to the pandemic move closer to medical reality, many companies remain well below their prices before the pandemic took hold of the country. Health experts have warned that the winter months could bring another escalation of cases, and investors are bracing for further business disruptions.

On Monday, public health officials reported 154,656 new infections, continuing a record high seven-day average of new cases. Hospitalizations, too, have never been higher, with more than 85,000 coronavirus patients admitted, rising 17% over the past week, according to Monday's tally. Daily fatalities increased by more than 30%, all pointing to the pandemic intensifying heading into the holiday season.

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