Wall Street's main indexes rose and the Nasdaq hit a record high on Friday as optimism around an economic rebound next year outweighed concerns around an expected surge in coronavirus infections following the Thanksgiving holiday.
Sentiment was also lifted by President Donald Trump saying he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, the closest he has come to conceding the Nov. 3 election, market participants said.
"While it was certainly the expectation of the vast majority of traders that there would be an easy transfer of power, at the end of the day it gives a little bit of confidence," said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Jersey.
The three main U.S. stock indexes have gained more than 10% this month as investors were encouraged by signs that COVID-19 vaccines were on track to be rolled out in the weeks ahead, setting the S&P 500 for its best November ever.
Although European bourses were subdued by doubts around the effectiveness of AstraZeneca's vaccine, Meckler said it would not affect the U.S. stock market with traders betting on candidates being developed by Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc.
Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with only the real estate and the utilities sectors, commonly considered defensive, trading lower.
A rotation into sectors deemed to benefit from an economic recovery, such as industrials and financials, has also powered the Dow to record highs and put it on track for its biggest monthly gain since 1987.
Market volatility, as measured by the CBOE volatility index, slipped to pre-pandemic levels. Trading volumes are expected to be light as the U.S. stock market closes early on Friday.
U.S.-listed shares of iQIYI Inc fell 2.8% after Reuters reported Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd had put on hold talks to buy a controlling stake in the video streaming service.
Next week, investors will get the latest economic snapshot, including the monthly employment report. Economists polled by Reuters expect the Dec. 4 jobs report to show unemployment dipped to 6.8% from 6.9%, but still well above the 4.5% rate in March, before much of the U.S. economy went into lockdown.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1.58-to-1 on the NYSE and 2.06-to-1 on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 17 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 75 new highs and four new lows.