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The Dow was headed for an over 300 point gain at Tuesday's open, with the Trump administration approving Joe Biden's transition and the president-elect set to pick former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary. A day earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 327 points after AstraZeneca and Oxford said their Covid-19 vaccine was up to 90% effective, in a third straight Monday of encouraging late-stage trial data. Heading into Tuesday's trading on Wall Street, so-called reopening stocks like airlines and cruise lines were getting another boost. Tech stocks, seen as beneficiaries of the pandemic stay-at-home economy, were steady after a rough Monday that put a cap on the Nasdaq's gains.
After weeks of delay, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy on Monday told Biden the Trump administration is making federal resources available for his transition to the White House. A letter from Murphy was officially released minutes before Trump tweeted that he approved the move. However, the president reiterated his false narrative about a "corrupt election," saying he'll "never concede to fake ballots." He also said his legal challenges to the Nov. 3 election were "moving full speed ahead."
Biden has been conducting a transition on his end since being projected as the winner on Nov. 7.
Yellen, if approved by the Senate, would become the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. The 74-year-old labor economist is widely seen as a politically "safe" pick for the role, likely to garner support from Senate Republicans as someone capable of pursing bipartisan compromise during an otherwise fragile time for the economy. Yellen's leadership of the Fed from 2014 to 2018 was marked by an improving labor market and historically low interest rates.
In addition to Biden's announcement that he intends to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of State and Jake Sullivan as national security advisor, the president-elect on Monday chose Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Homeland Security Department and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Biden also picked former Secretary of State John Kerry as a special presidential envoy for climate.
General Motors said it's reversing course and will no longer back the Trump administration's effort to bar California from setting its own emissions rules in an ongoing court fight. The about-face Monday came as GM sought to work with Biden, who has made boosting electric vehicles a top priority. The U.S. automaker said last week it plans to increase spending on EVs and autonomous vehicles by 35%. CEO Mary Barra said she believes "the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions."
In addition to climate change, the coronavirus will be a top priority of the Biden administration as the seven-day average of new daily U.S. cases reached 172,118, as of Monday, marking another record stretch of infections, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the U.S. saw its worst single-day of the pandemic of just under 200,000 cases. New infections were lower on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. However, hospitalizations in 25 states hit records over the past seven days. According to the COVID Tracking Project, run by The Atlantic, a record 85,836 people were hospitalized with the virus as of Monday.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC Pro's live markets blog. Get the latest on the pandemic with our coronavirus blog.