(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* J&J targets COVID-19 late-stage trial results by January
* U.S. FDA staff backs Pfizerâ€™s COVID-19 vaccine data
* Tesla falls on launching $5 bln share sale
* Indexes up: Dow 0.29%, S&P 500 0.14%, Nasdaq 0.05% (Updates prices, adds comments)
Dec 8 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow reversed course to rise on Tuesday, led by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson following encouraging news on its COVID-19 vaccine, while the Nasdaq hit a record high.
Johnson & Johnson gained 1.9% after the company said it could obtain late-stage trial results of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine it is developing, earlier than expected.
Pfizer Inc also rose 3.2% as it cleared the next hurdle in the race to get its COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use, after the U.S. health regulator released documents raising no new safety or efficacy issues.
Wall Streetâ€™s main indexes have traded in a tight range for most of the session so far, as investors awaited more stimulus in the face of surging COVID-19 cases and strict restrictions in California.
â€œWhen you are in a market where there is so much near-term negative news because of the virus, but so much future positive news because of the vaccine … you do get into this tug of war,â€ said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Jersey.
â€œWe are at that equilibrium point where there are as many optimists as pessimists about where the market is headed in 2021â€
Investors are closely watching whether policymakers will be able to clinch an agreement on a long-awaited coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion spending bill, with Friday eyed as a deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
The U.S. Congress will vote this week on a one-week stopgap funding bill to provide more time for lawmakers to reach a deal on both spending and pandemic relief.
Positive developments related to the COVID-19 vaccine have in the recent weeks helped investors look past the surge in infections and raise bets on a steady economic recovery next year.
Analysts now expect investor attention to gradually shift from vaccine approvals to their global distribution.
â€œI donâ€™t know if investors are recognizing how long the process is going to take, but the market tends to look out a little more than the very near term. Right now it is predicting that there will be a good distribution system in place some time by the middle of next year,â€ Meckler said.
At 12:21 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 88.62 points, or 0.29%, at 30,158.41, the S&P 500 was up 5.21 points, or 0.14%, at 3,697.17 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 5.85 points, or 0.05%, at 12,525.79.
Boeing Co slipped 0.6% after company data showed the planemaker lost another 63 orders for its newly ungrounded 737 MAX jet in November.
Tesla Inc fell 1.9% after the electric-car maker unveiled a $5 billion capital raise, its second such move in three months.
Drug developer Moderna Inc climbed 4.2%, after Switzerland increased its confirmed orders for its COVID-19 vaccine doses to 7.5 million from 4.5 million.
Energy shares recovered some of the previous sessionâ€™s losses, even as crude prices remained under pressure.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.66-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.24-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)