US Stocks Turn Higher Wednesday

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks rose in morning trading Wednesday as the effort to develop and distribute vaccines to fight the virus pandemic ramps up.

The early gains put the market back on positive footing following a modest pullback on Tuesday. Britain has authorized the use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The vaccine is considered easier to store and handle than others hitting the market. Earlier in December, both the U.K. and U.S. approved a vaccine made by Pfizer.

Meanwhile, vaccine development continues around the globe, with China's Sinopharm becoming the latest to release encouraging study results.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and is hovering around a record high set on Monday. Technology and industrial stocks are leading the way, though the gains a are broad. More than 85% of stocks in the index rose.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 117 points, or 0.4%, to 30,453 as of 10:11 a.m. Eastern. The Nasdaq rose 0.4%.

Small-company stocks again outpaced their larger rivals as the Russell 2000 gained 1.3%. That's a sign that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy. Treasury yields held steady.

Another potential boost for investor sentiment on Wednesday came from Europe. European Union officials and British lawmakers have approved a separation deal that will govern trade and other relations after the year ends. The U.K. left the EU almost a year ago, but remained within the bloc's economic embrace during a transition period that ends this year.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.4% and Germany's DAX slipped 0.3%. The CAC 40 in Paris fell less than 0.1%.

Markets in Asia were mostly higher, though Japan's Nikkei fell 0.5% as the Tokyo exchange marked the end of trading for the year.