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Stocks soar on Wall Street ahead of Christmas break

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A forex trader watches screens showing the Composite Korean Stock Price Index (KOSPI) and the exchange rate between the US dollar and the South Korean won, in the foreign exchange trading room at KEB Hana headquarters Bank in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, December 22, 2021. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday after President Joe Biden reassured investors by calling for vaccinations and tests, but no travel restrictions in response to the variant of the omicron coronavirus. (AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon)

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Stocks closed higher on Wall Street on Wednesday, adding to the gains for the week before the Christmas break. The S&P 500 rose 1%, the Nasdaq rose 1.2%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7%. The Russell 2000, a measure of small business stocks, rose 0.9%. Tech companies and a mix of retailers led the gains. The major indices are still on track for weekly gains after a rally on Tuesday. European and Asian markets also closed higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill fell to 1.46%. US markets will be closed on Friday for Christmas.

THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

Stocks rose broadly in afternoon trading on Wall Street on Wednesday, adding to gains in the week before the Christmas holidays.

The S&P 500 was up 0.6% at 2:38 p.m. EST. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 176 points, or 0.5%, to 35,670 and the Nasdaq rose 0.6%.

The Russell 2000, a measure of small business stocks, rose 0.4%. The indices were mainly higher in Europe and Asia.

All major US indices are still on track for weekly gains after several turbulent days where stocks rebounded between big losses and solid gains. It’s a shortened week for traders, with US markets closed on Friday for Christmas.

Retailers and other businesses that rely on consumer spending accounted for a significant portion of the gains. They rose following an encouraging report on consumer confidence.

Tesla jumped 6.4% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after CEO Elon Musk reportedly said he sold enough shares to meet his goal of selling 10% of his stake in the electric vehicle maker.

Technology and healthcare stocks have also helped lift the market. Microsoft rose 1.1% and Abbott Laboratories rose 2.2%.

Traders increased their shares in cruise lines, hotel operators and other travel-related stocks. Carnival rose 3.6%, Marriott rose 2.7% and Expedia Group rose 2.4%.

Utility and industrial companies have lagged behind the market.

Energy futures rose as the price of US crude oil rose 2.5%.

Bond yields have mostly fallen. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.46% from 1.48% on Tuesday night.

The latest increase in coronavirus cases due to the omicron variant has weighed on markets, along with concerns about rising inflation and its impact on economic growth.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that the US economy grew at a rate of 2.3% in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought. But the prospects of a strong rebound going forward are clouded by the rapid spread of the latest variant of the coronavirus.

“The market is a little uncertain about this (omicron), but seems somewhat convinced it’s not going to turn into another foreclosure,” said Scott Wren, senior global markets strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to ease restrictions already in place. In the United States, President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that the government would provide rapid test kits and increase vaccination efforts, but gave no indication of plans for restrictions that could disrupt the economy.

Investors have also been busy moving money between sectors as the end of the year nears, and they are bracing for higher interest rates in 2022. The Federal Reserve has said it will step up. the process of reducing its bond purchases that have helped keep interest rates low and that opens the door to central bank rate hikes in 2022.


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