US Stocks Higher in Morning Trade

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are edging higher in morning trading Wednesday and hovering above their recent record highs as coronavirus vaccines move closer to distribution and Washington ramps up stimulus talks.

A vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which is already in use in the U.K., is on track for a positive review and potential approval in the U.S. within the next week. The Food and Drug Administration will also consider a vaccine developed by Moderna later this month. The prospect for a vaccine is giving Wall Street hope that the economy is nearing a more direct path to a full recovery.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, putting it above its record of 3,702.25 set on Tuesday. The index is already up 2.5% this month following one of its best months in decades during November.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 62 points, or 0.2%, at 30,236, as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.1% higher.

Companies that stand to benefit the most from a recovering economy were putting up solid gains. Walt Disney, which has seen attendance at its parks suffer amid the pandemic, rose 1.9%. Citigroup rose 2% as Treasury yields gained ground in a sign of optimism for the economy.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.95% from 0.90% late Tuesday.

Utilities, real estate companies and other safe-play sectors lagged the broader market as investors shifted money into assets with more risk.

The market has been making gains as investors weigh the continued economic damage being inflicted by the virus against anticipation for a return to normalcy as vaccines start to move closer to approval and wider distribution. The recent surge in coronavirus cases and tighter restrictions on businesses over the last few weeks has again raised the importance of a vaccine for beaten down businesses.

But there could be more economic damage in store over the next few months and investors are still closely watching Washington for any developments on another shot of stimulus for people, businesses and state governments. Congress is still divided over the size and scope of any new package and the Trump administration has added to the potential plans with a new $916 billion proposal.

European markets made gains. France's CAC 40 was up 0.2%, Germany's DAX rose 0.8% and the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.4%. Asian markets mostly rose.