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  • The S&P 500 ended at a record high Thursday as investors headed out for Christmas break. 
  • Investors have set aside worries about rising Omicron cases over the past three sessions. 
  • Thursday’s data included weekly jobless claims holding steady at 205,000.

US stocks finished higher Thursday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high before the Christmas break after investors sifted through a big batch of economic data that included weekly jobless claims holding steady as the Omicron variant spreads. 

Stocks notched three straight days of gains. Industrials led 10 of 11 sectors tracked on the S&P 500 and nearly all of the members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended higher. Following a sell-off last week, stocks have switched into recovery mode on signs the world’s largest economy will be able to avoid mass shutdowns because of the new Omicron strain of coronavirus. 

New coronavirus case counts in the US have risen by nearly 53% over the week, reaching 243,817 on Wednesday,  according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Although the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, we believe that the market impact will continue to be tepid – and possibly even quite positive if it acts as a sort of “stealth vax” by providing antibodies at very low ‘cost’ given its mild nature,” Scott Ladner, chief investment strategist at Horizon Investments, told Insider in a note Thursday. 

“Despite exponential growth in cases in the UK & South Africa, hospitalizations & mortality remain unchanged relative to previous waves. Barring any kind of restrictions that impede economic activity, markets will likely look through this uptick in cases,” he said. 

Here’s where US indexes stood at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday:   

  • S&P 5004,725.80, up 0.62% 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average35,950.63, up 0.55% (196.74 points)
  • Nasdaq Composite15,653.37, up 0.85% 

Among Thursday’s data, jobless claims were largely unchanged from last week at 205,000, and the Commerce Department said consumer spending rose by 0.6% in November, although that was slower than October’s growth rate of 1.4%. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation rose by more than expected. The core PCE price index rose 0.5% month-over-month in November, higher than expectations of a monthly rise of 0.4%. The 12-month inflation rate of 4.7% was above expectations of 4.5%

Around the markets, Elon Musk sold more Tesla shares for $15.4 billion in total, saying there are still a few more shares to go.

Chamath Palihapitiya’s four blockbuster SPAC mergers have tumbled 32% this year as investors ditch flashy growth stocks.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club collection of NFTs topped CryptoPunks for the first time on a key price metric. 

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate crude moved up 1.4% to $73.79 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, climbed 2% to $76.79.

Gold picked up 0.4% to $1,810.10 per ounce. The 10-year yield rose 4 basis points to 1.495%. 

Bitcoin advanced by 4% to $51,046.17.

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