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* Futures up: Dow 0.80%, S&P 0.74%, Nasdaq 0.50%
By Ambar Warrick
Dec 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday as travel stocks surged on the launch of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine campaign, while investors held out hope for more local stimulus as bipartisan talks continued.
Shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech PFE (NYSE: PFE ).N BNTX.O vaccine fanned out to distribution points across the United States on Sunday, with injections set to begin later on Monday. inoculations are seen as pivotal toward ultimately halting the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than a million lives around the world and bought economic activity to a halt.
Cruise operators Carnival (NYSE: CCL ) Corp CCL.N and Royal Caribbean Cruises RCL.N rose 5.5% and 3.5%, respectively, in premarket trade, while stocks of major airline operators rose between 1.5% and 3.0%, with Jetblue Airways Corp JBLU.O leading gains.
Travel and leisure stocks are the worst hit by restrictions on movement due to the pandemic, and have reacted positively to any vaccine-related news.
U.S. stocks had rallied through the past few weeks, with the S&P 500 touching a series of record highs as markets bet on the swift approval and roll out of a vaccine.
But uncertainty over more fiscal stimulus had stifled gains, after the Senate last week approved a one-week extension of federal funding to avoid a government shutdown and to provide more time for negotiations on COVID-19 relief and an overarching spending bill. individual movers, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc ALXN.O surged 32.3% after British drugmaker AstraZeneca AZN.L AZN.O said it would buy the U.S. biotech firm for $39 billion in one of this year's biggest mergers worldwide. AstraZeneca's U.S.-listed shares fell 5.3%. company Alibaba (NYSE: BABA ) Group Holding Ltd BABA.N shed 1.5% after China warned its internet majors of more anti-trust scrutiny and slapped fines and announced probes into deals involving Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK .
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