US stocks end at record high, oil prices rise as Omicron fears subside

  • S&P 500 hits record at close
  • Oil
  • U.S. consumer confidence is rising

NEW YORK, Dec.23 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 posted a record close on Thursday, with oil prices also rising as investors and traders were bullish on positive economic data and reduced the impact of the coronavirus variant Omicron on the economy, even as the number of COVID-19 cases skyrockets.

Stocks rose broadly on the last trading day of the week before a long Christmas weekend in the United States, after data showing consumer spending rose 0.6% last month. The number of Americans filing new jobless claims remained below pre-pandemic levels last week, which helped the gains. Read more

Signs Omicron is less likely to lead to hospitalization and indications that Merck (MRK.N) and Pfizer (PFE.N) COVID-19 antiviral pills are effective against the variant, added to the festive glee of the market.

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“Today is a very calm day; it’s a relief that Omicron apparently isn’t as bad as we feared, ”said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. “This is a positive sign as we approach 2022. The economic context is very solid. “

“The bull might have a few more tricks up its sleeve before the end of the year,” added Detrick.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 0.55% to 35,950.56 and the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 0.62% to 4,725.79. The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 0.85% to 15,653.37.

MSCI’s stock gauge across the world (.MIWD00000PUS) gained 0.72%.

As investors pulled cash from safe-haven assets, the benchmark 10-year yield on U.S. Treasuries rose 3.5 basis points to 1.4926% in afternoon trading. Treasury Markets closed at 2 p.m. ET due to the statutory holiday weekend. Read more

The surge in risky investments before Christmas, dubbed a “Santa Claus Gathering” by traders, also pushed gold and oil higher.

The safe haven dollar climbed higher against a basket of currencies, but its gains were limited by risk sentiment supporting the Australian dollar and British pound. Read more

US stocks posted a third straight day of gains as they recovered from a shake on Monday when concerns over Omicron pushed investors into safe-haven assets.

The risk of having to stay in hospital for patients with the new variant is 40 to 45% lower than for patients with the Delta variant, according to a study from Imperial College London published on Wednesday. Read more

However, experts said US President Joe Biden’s attempts to curb the spread of Omicron by distributing free rapid home tests, while welcome, were too limited, too late. Read more

Oil prices extended their gains on Thursday as signs that the Omicron variant’s worst effects could be contained outweighed the threat of further travel restrictions. Read more

US crude recently rose 1.37% to $ 73.76 a barrel and Brent was at $ 76.73, up 1.91% on the day.

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Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; additional reports by Alun John and Lawrence White; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Ana Nicolaci da Costa, Pravin Char, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Felix J. Dixon