Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Notches Another High as COVID's Spread Worsens

An error in AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine trial and persistent coronavirus troubles in the U.S. led investors to chase the old COVID trade Friday.

Concept art of COVID-19
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The broader markets closed the week with a passive partial session on Black Friday as setbacks in the fight against COVID challenged investors yet again to rethink their vigorous rotation into value stocks.

One worry: AstraZeneca's (AZN (opens in new tab)) admission that its scientists accidentally gave half-doses of its vaccine to one batch of volunteers – a mistake that could delay approval until more data can be gathered. Meanwhile, the U.S. tallied another 100,000 coronavirus cases on Thanksgiving and reported record hospitalizations (90,481) for the 17th consecutive day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.1% to 29,910, while the Nasdaq Composite closed with a solid 0.9% gain to a record-high 12,205, led by Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL (opens in new tab), +1.3%) and Netflix (NFLX (opens in new tab), +1.3%).

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The Nasdaq also enjoyed a bump from Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), +2.1%), whose shares have continued their wild 2020 rally amid broader enthusiasm for EV stocks, given what should be an accommodative Joe Biden administration. Tesla is now the sixth-largest U.S. stock at $555 billion in market value by virtue of passing Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B (opens in new tab), -0.7%, $543 billion) today.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 edged 0.2% higher to 3,638.
  • The Russell 2000 improved by 0.6% to finish at 1,855, eclipsing its all-time high set on Tuesday.
  • U.S. crude oil futures declined 0.9% to settle at $45.32 per barrel.
  • Gold futures dipped heavily, sagging 2.4% to $1,788.10 per ounce.

Start Thinking About Your 401(k)

We're getting close to that time of year when even the least-active investors take a peek at their 401(k)s. For savvier Closing Bell readers, it's time to take a long, hard look at every investment in your 401(k) to make sure it's giving you the most bang for your buck.

We continue our series on 401(k) mutual-fund picks – which so far has included Vanguard, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price – with a look at the most popular 401(k) offerings from American Funds, whose managers are keenly aware of how much value they're adding.

Why? Because the culture of Capital Group, which manages the American Funds, includes having some skin in the game. As Kiplinger's senior associate editor Nellie Huang points out, "Many American Funds have at least one manager with more than $1 million of his or her own money invested in the portfolio."

Read on as we break down 14 American Funds that are commonly found in 401(k) plans (opens in new tab), rating each one a Buy, Hold or Sell.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.