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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

An index of America's smallest companies closed at the highest level ever on Friday. It hasn't hit a new record in over two years.

Why it matters: The gulf between the biggest and smallest companies widened at the onset of the pandemic — with smaller companies (whose businesses are the most closely tied to the U.S. economy) seen as hit the hardest by the economic effects from COVID-19.

  • Yes, but: That idea has been over on Wall Street, with the gap between large caps and small caps narrowing in recent months.

Driving the news: This week, the index surged on the back of positive developments from a coronavirus vaccine.

  • The Russell 2000 is up 13% so far this month — outpacing the S&P 500's 9.6% gain. (The S&P 500 is still outperforming for all of 2020.)

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Dec 1, 2020 - Economy & Business

Everyone's bullish

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Following positive vaccine news and the run-up in global equities punctuated last week by the Dow hitting 30,000 points, investors are again throwing caution to the wind and growing more uniform in their bets that stocks will continue to rise.

Between the lines: The resurgence of traders' risk appetite has some urging caution, as unanimity in either excitement or fear historically has proven to be a contrarian signal for the stock market.

Dollar index hits its lowest level in more than two years

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's value against a basket of currencies, touched its lowest level in over two years.

What's going on: Investor sentiment soared this month — following Biden’s win and prospects of congressional gridlock, possible stimulus, and headway on coronavirus vaccines.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.