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Photo: Elizabeth Robertson / The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, the broadest measure of the stock market, notched 61 record highs and climbed about 21.3% in the first year since Trump was elected president, AP's Alex Veiga writes. But what's really interesting is the reason — and it's not just tax-cut expectations.

Be smart: "[T]he biggest driver of the market's gains has been strong corporate profits, Wall Street analysts say.""[M]ore companies than usual are ... reporting higher [earnings and] revenue than analysts had forecast.""Stock prices tend to track corporate profits over the long term, so the better-than-expected earnings growth helps to validate the stock market's record-setting run, at least somewhat.""Investors have also continued to bet big on economic growth in the U.S. and worldwide as economies in Europe and Asia have bounced back.""Since Trump's election, technology companies have led the way with a 39% surge. Banks and industrial and basic materials companies have also soared. Only phone company stocks are down from a year ago."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.