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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here’s one thing Wall Street investors can say that other Americans can’t: Things are looking really good.

Why it matters: The backdrop is the worst rate of coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. But that’s no match for a prospective vaccine down the line, which adds to already favorable conditions for investors.

  • "Yes, new cases and hospitalizations are soaring, but we are inching closer to ending this pandemic," says Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.

What’s going on: Investors continued to pile into most risk assets on Monday, following early trial data showing Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine was 94.5% effective.

  • Stocks closed at all-time highs. The Dow cinched a new record for the first time since the pandemic hit. (It’s also closing in on the 30,000 mark.)
  • Notably, "stay-at-home" companies didn’t broadly sell off like last week when Pfizer released early vaccine trial results, with companies like Peloton rising yesterday. Some Big Tech stocks also rose.
  • Oil prices jumped 3%.

Meanwhile, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note jumped to 0.91% from 0.89% on Friday. (It jumped more than 10 basis points after the Pfizer news last week).

The good news about vaccine progress adds to the better-than-expected developments that have emerged for Wall Street and corporate America during an unprecedented pandemic. Among them:

  • Corporate profits that have surprised to the upside.
  • Companies confident enough to resume buybacks and dividend payments. (Costco on Monday said it would pay out a special cash dividend this year.)
  • Interest rates that will be lower for longer.

Between the lines: The Fed’s ongoing response to the pandemic has played a massive role in buoying investors.

  • What to watch: Wall Street is increasingly betting the Fed will make changes to its bond buying program as soon as its next meeting. Fed officials aren’t exactly swatting off that notion.
  • What they’re saying: "The Federal Reserve is committed to using all of our available tools — not just the federal-funds rate and forward guidance, but also large-scale asset purchases — to achieve our dual-mandate goals," Fed vice chair Richard Clarida said in a speech on Monday.

The bottom line: "Our glass half-full outlook is bolstered by benign inflation, low interest rates, improving growth trends of earnings, ongoing monetary and fiscal stimulus policies, and medical progress for COVID-19," analysts at U.S. Bank wrote in a note to clients.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Omicron variant lifts Moderna's stock price — CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: Federal court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for health workers in 10 states — NYC urges masks indoors "at all times" regardless of vaccination status — New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.