Wall Street stocks rallied to fresh records Thursday on optimism over stimulus talks and coronavirus vaccines, even as the pandemic worsens in the United States, weighing on the near-term economic outlook.

All three major US indices ended at all-time highs, with the Nasdaq posting its third straight record. European and Asian bourses mostly rose, although the strong pound weighed on London's FTSE 100.

"The market is really showing some great resilience to selling pressure," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"The market is seeing bad data... yet it still rallies because it still is fixated on a 2021 recovery."

The records came despite some increasing signs of economic distress in the wake of the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the impact on business and hiring.

Data Thursday showed an unexpected jump in jobless claims after a report earlier in the week revealed a drop in retail sales.

Still, markets charged higher as long-stalled congressional talks on stimulus appeared to be entering the home-stretch and US experts met to discuss a Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna.

After markets closed, the panel voted to recommend emergency approval to Moderna, paving the way for six million doses to start shipping as soon as this weekend.

But the outbreak in the United States continued to worsen, with more than 3,700 deaths and more than 250,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"The number of new COVID cases surged to a new daily high over the past 24 hours, and the fears of a post-Thanksgiving spike seem to be confirmed with hospitalizations still on the rise as well," Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman said.

He attributed the latest drop in the US dollar in part to a US coronavirus outbreak that "is the most serious in a global perspective."

Back in Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron became the latest national leader to test positive for coronavirus, forcing several other European politicians into quarantine as the continent becomes the first region to pass 500,000 deaths.

Germany reported a daily record of new coronavirus infections of more than 30,000, as it struggles to cope with the outbreak with a fresh partial lockdown.

But the pound kept at around 19-month highs against the dollar as the Bank of England held fire over interest rates and stimulus as Britain and the EU continue their 11th-hour talks on their post-Brexit trading arrangement.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to find a breakthrough in post-Brexit trade. After speaking with Johnson, von der Leyen was pessimistic.

"We welcomed substantial progress on many issues, yet big differences remain to be bridged, in particular on fisheries," she said.

"Bridging them will be very challenging. Negotiations will continue tomorrow."

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said lawmakers were closing in on a new stimulus deal
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said lawmakers were closing in on a new stimulus deal AFP / Kena Betancur

New York - Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 30,303.37 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.6 percent at 3,722.48 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.8 percent at 12,764.75 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,551.06 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 13,667.25 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: FLAT at 5,549.46 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 3,560.87 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 26,806.67 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 26,678.38 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.1 percent at 3,404.87 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3584 from $1.3509 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.28 pence from 90.31 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2265 from $1.2200

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.10 yen from 103.47 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.1 percent at $48.36 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $51.50 per barrel