Stocks rose sharply Tuesday — cracking 30,000 for the first time — after President 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 percent, to a record 30,060.98. It marked the first time the blue-chip index had breached the 30,000 threshold. The S&P 500 increased nearly 55 points, or 1.5 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index 100 climbed 116 points, or nearly 1 percent.
In a brief appearance Tuesday afternoon at the White House, in which he took no questions, the president celebrated the rising Dow.
“The stock market’s just broken 30,000 — never been broken, that number,” Trump said. He went on to congratulate his own administration and the American people, “because there are no people like you,” he said, before swiftly leaving the lectern.
The presidential transfer of power was approved Monday afternoon, through a letter General Services Administration head Emily Murphy sent to President-elect Joe Biden. The news broke Monday evening, and in response, Trump tweeted that he would approve the transition — but didn’t concede.
The administration’s approval of the transition appeared to rally investors’ confidence in the election results by Tuesday morning. The official 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 L. 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, but also by multiple breakthroughs in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. On Monday, AstraZeneca joined Moderna, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in unveiling upbeat data about the effectiveness of its covid-19 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 coronavirus 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 percent over the past week, according to Monday’s tally. Daily fatalities increased by more than 30 percent, all pointing to the pandemic intensifying heading into the holiday season.
James McDonald, chief executive of Hercules Investments, said investors should expect more volatility despite Tuesday’s all-time high, with expected shutdowns in the coming weeks in response to surging coronavirus cases and congressional tension over fiscal stimulus.
“While Dow 30,000 is a symbolic moment for the stock market, it is simply a continuation of the market’s euphoria after the pre-election sell-off,” McDonald said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post.