US STOCKS-Wall St set to rise after positive vaccine update from Pfizer

·2 min read

* Travel stocks edge higher after vaccine update

* Big Tech stocks continue to rise

* Futures up: Dow 0.18%, S&P 0.18%, Nasdaq 0.15% (Adds comments, updates prices throughout)

By Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal

Dec 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Wednesday after Pfizer and BioNTech said a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was shown to have a neutralizing effect against the new Omicron coronavirus variant in a laboratory test.

Shares of Pfizer rose 1.0% in premarket trading. The drugmakers added that, if needed, they can deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022.

"This is really the first positive news in terms of the potential effectiveness of existing vaccines," said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

"Anything that suggests we're not headed for a period of a return to the problems we had earlier this year is a positive for most stocks."

Travel stocks recouped earlier declines, with Norwegian Cruise Line and Alaska Air Group rising 2.6% and 1.9%, respectively.

Futures tracking U.S. stock indexes had pared gains earlier in the day after reports said Britain could implement tougher COVID-19 measures, including advice to work from home, as early as Thursday in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

The Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations and the number of patients needing hospitalization is likely to rise as it spreads, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

Wall Street swung wildly last week as investors fretted that the spread of the new variant could force countries to lay down new restrictions, upending a global recovery at a time when central banks around the world are contemplating a move to pre-pandemic policy environment.

At 8:22 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 65 points, or 0.18%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 8.5 points, or 0.18%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 24.25 points, or 0.15%.

The Nasdaq closed strongly over 3% on Tuesday as market participants piled onto beaten-down technology stocks.

Big technology stocks continued their momentum, with Tesla Inc, Alphabet, Microsoft and Apple up between 0.1% and 0.4%.

"You're seeing a lot of retail investors here in the U.S. have had an unending love affair with technology stocks ... to them, the mega-cap tech stocks have just remained strong no matter what," Meckler said.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co rose 5.8% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold". (Reporting by Devik Jain and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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