US close: Santa delivers as S&P 500 reaches record high

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Wall Street stocks were firmly positive at the end of trading on Thursday, with the S&P 500 turning in its 68th record close of the year.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.55% at 35,950.56, the S&P 500 added 0.62% to 7,725.79, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.85% to 15,653.37.

The Dow closed 196.67 points higher on Thursday, extending gains recorded on Wednesday when market participants digested third-quarter GDP figures, and continued to monitor Covid-19 headlines in the lead-up to the Christmas break.

“Given how light the calendar has been this week it is hard to pin the moves on anything firm, but at least the Omicron situation appears to be lessening in the scope of its potential dangers, providing one source of optimism,” said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.

“And the economic recovery is still on track, as the rebound in durable goods orders shows.”

On the economic front, claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly in the seven days ended 18 December after having hit their lowest level since 1969 two weeks earlier.

According to the Labor Department, initial jobless claims totalled 205,000 last week, in line with estimates and the previous week’s downwardly revised total.

The four-week moving average, which levels out volatility in the numbers, came to 206,250, an increase of 2,750 from the previous week’s revised average, the lowest level for the average since 14 March 2020, while continuing claims, which run a week behind the headline number, came to 1.85m, ahead of forecasts for a print of 1.82m but below the revised week-before reading of 1.86m.

Elsewhere, US consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in nearly 40 years in November amid surging inflation.

Consumer prices increased 5.7%, up from 5.1% in October, according to figures released on Thursday by the Commerce Department, the fastest pace since 1982.

The department said consumer spending rose 0.6% in November, coming in below October’s 1.4% jump as people started their Christmas shopping earlier than usual this year.

Personal incomes, meanwhile, were up 0.4% compared with a 0.5% rise in October.

On another note, durable goods orders placed with US factories increased in November, up 2.5% month-on-month for the biggest rise in six months, exceeding forecasts and indicating that steady demand would likely help drive production growth early in 2022.

The increase partly reflected a sharp rise in commercial aircraft orders.

However, the value of core capital goods orders, which excludes aircraft and military hardware, fell 0.1% following an upwardly revised 0.9% print in October, according to the Commerce Department.

Still on data, new home sales jumped 12.4% in November to a seasonally adjusted rate of 744,000, short of expectations for a reading of 770,000, according to the Census Bureau, following a downwardly revised print of 662,000 for October.

Lastly, the University of Michigan‘s final consumer sentiment index improved in December, primarily due to significant gains among households with incomes in the bottom third of the distribution.

The Michigan sentiment index increased to 70.6 from 67.4 in November but was down from 80.7 in December 2020.

The index of current economic conditions came in at 74.2 in December, up from 73.6 the month before but weaker than the 90.0 print registered in December last year, while the gauge for consumer expectations printed at 68.3 versus 63.5 in November and 74.6 in the same month a year ago.

In the corporate space, no major earnings were released on Thursday, while reopening plays were higher as traders lapped up research suggesting Omicron was less likely to result in hospitalisation than previous Covid-19 variants.

Wynn Resorts was up 3.51%, Delta Air Lines was ahead 0.43%, and Airbnb gained 1.19%.

Elsewhere, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics jumped 6.923% after medical diagnostics firm Quidel announced it was buying Ortho in a cash and shares deal worth $6bn.

On the downside, drugmaker Pfizer reversed earlier gains to close down 1.41% even after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorisation for its Covid-19 pill, the world’s first antiviral drug aimed at the virus.

Similarly, Merck slipped 0.56% despite the FDA also granting emergency use authorisation for its antiviral drug for Covid-19, making it the second such treatment to be approved after Pfizer’s.

Dow Jones – Risers

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) $206.20 2.00%
Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) $55.14 1.68%
3M Co. (MMM) $174.97 1.35%
Boeing Co. (BA) $204.22 1.25%
Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) $62.28 1.22%
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $153.63 1.15%
American Express Co. (AXP) $164.19 1.06%
Amgen Inc. (AMGN) $223.79 1.02%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) $385.04 0.71%
International Business Machines Corporation (CDI) (IBM) $130.63 0.68%

Dow Jones – Fallers

Visa Inc. (V) $216.62 -0.61%
Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) $75.73 -0.56%
Walmart Inc. (WMT) $139.49 -0.22%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $52.68 -0.17%
Travelers Company Inc. (TRV) $154.68 -0.03%
Dowdupont Inc. (DWDP) $30.52 0.00%
Honeywell International Inc. (HON) $230.94 0.00%
Coca-Cola Co. (KO) $58.22 0.07%
Salesforce.Com Inc. (CRM) $253.14 0.13%
Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $50.48 0.14%

S&P 500 – Risers

Micron Technology Inc. (MU) $94.42 4.52%
Citrix Systems Inc. (CTXS) $97.88 3.77%
Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) $88.88 3.51%
Discovery Inc. Class A (DISCA) $24.42 3.34%
Discovery Inc. Class C (DISCK) $23.57 3.29%
LyondellBasell Industries (LYB) $90.55 2.87%
Abiomed Inc. (ABMD) $352.18 2.57%
Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) $148.84 2.56%
Fortive Corporation (FTV) $74.50 2.55%
News Corp Class A (NWSA) $22.33 2.48%

S&P 500 – Fallers

Coterra Energy Inc. (CTRA) $19.39 -1.82%
Hologic Inc. (HOLX) $76.08 -1.42%
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) $58.71 -1.41%
Carmax Inc. (KMX) $126.28 -1.22%
Resmed Inc. (RMD) $258.79 -1.10%
Digital Realty Trust (DLR) $169.74 -0.93%
American Tower Corp (Reit) (AMT) $278.67 -0.89%
Sba Communications Corp. (SBAC) $374.28 -0.88%
Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS) $109.05 -0.86%
Hess Corp. (HES) $73.49 -0.84%

Nasdaq 100 – Risers

Tesla Inc (TSLA) $1,067.00 5.76%
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) $94.42 4.52%
Trip.com Group Limited (TCOM) $23.79 3.98%
Qurate Retail Inc. (QRTEA) $7.66 3.79%
Citrix Systems Inc. (CTXS) $97.88 3.77%
Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) $88.88 3.51%
Mercadolibre Inc. (MELI) $1,262.73 2.83%
Western Digital Corp. (WDC) $61.20 2.36%
Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) $155.49 2.08%
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) $50.03 2.04%

Nasdaq 100 – Fallers

JD.com, Inc. (JD) $68.65 -6.92%
Hologic Inc. (HOLX) $76.08 -1.42%
Fiserv Inc. (FISV) $105.54 -0.61%
Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) $280.99 -0.57%
T-Mobile Us, Inc. (TMUS) $119.91 -0.54%
O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (ORLY) $679.42 -0.30%
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (CHKP) $114.86 -0.11%
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) $614.09 -0.02%
American Airlines Group (AAL) $18.26 0.00%
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALXN) $182.50 0.00%