For a while on Wednesday, it looked like investors were ready for a breather after their frenetic dip-buying earlier in the week. U.S. equity futures were down after the best two days for stocks since October, European shares were drifting lower and Treasuries were edging up.

Then the virus-related vaccine headlines hit -- triggering a reversal across global markets and showing the low bar for optimism in today’s bull market.

The details were scarce and sketchy with U.K. researchers declaring progress and Chinese television reporting on a potential treatment -- both likely a very long way from use. Regardless, futures for the S&P 500 now point to another jump at the open, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index is up more than 1% and Treasuries are extending this week’s slump.

The reason? For all the legitimate worries about the impact of the coronavirus, the global growth outlook has been improving, monetary policies remain easy and earnings season so far has been respectable. The mere hint of an end to illness concerns is enough to spur another round of buy orders.

“News of a possible vaccine clearly gives a boost to sentiment,” said Magne Ostnor, a strategist at DNB Bank ASA. But the scale of the market impact “highlights how sensitive things are at the moment,” he said.

The moves were all the more noteworthy because they came as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was announcing the city will quarantine people arriving from mainland China, including Hong Kong residents and visitors entering via its international airport. Hours earlier the death toll from the virus climbed to 490, and the number of confirmed cases topped 24,000.

Unstoppable Market

Meanwhile, company warnings over the outbreak are becoming louder. Sportswear giant Adidas AG said Wednesday it has closed a significant number of stores in China and franchisees are doing likewise. Nike Inc. had made a similar announcement after the Tuesday close. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Apple Inc.’s main production partner better known as Foxconn, announced plans to isolate workers at its main iPhone-making base.

The corporate alarm bells are doing little to disrupt confidence. The S&P 500 jumped 1.5% on Tuesday, and is now just 32 points from a record, while the Nasdaq 100 blew through both its closing and intraday all-time highs.

“I don’t know what shakes the U.S. market. It just seems unstoppable,” said Kay Van-Petersen, a macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets Pte. “The U.S. definitely disconnects much more quickly.”

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