The Dow and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs on Wednesday on a boost from retailers including Walgreens and Nike as investors shrugged off concerns on the spreading omicron variant.
The Dow has now risen six straight trading days, marking the longest streak of gains since a seven-session run from March 5-15 this year.
Walgreens Boots Alliance and Nike rose 1.59% and 1.42% respectively against the backdrop of recent reports suggesting holiday sales were strong for U.S. retailers.
Data on Wednesday showed the U.S. trade deficit in goods mushroomed to the widest ever in November as imports of consumer goods shot to a record and the coronavirus pandemic has limited spending by Americans on services.
Some early studies pointing to a reduced risk of hospitalization in omicron cases have eased some investors’ concerns over the travel disruptions and powered the S&P 500 to record highs this week.
Meanwhile, the S&P 1500 airlines index dipped. Delta Air Lines and Alaska Air Group canceled hundreds of flights again on Tuesday as the daily tally of infections in the United States surged.
Typically, the final five trading days of the year and the first two of the subsequent year are seasonally strong for U.S. stocks, in a phenomenon known as the “Santa Claus Rally.” Market participants, however, warned against reading too much into daily moves as the holiday season tends to record some of the lowest volume turnovers, which can cause exaggerated price action.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90.42 points, or 0.25%, to 36,488.63, the S&P 500 gained 6.71 points, or 0.14%, to 4,793.06 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 15.51 points, or 0.1%, to 15,766.22.
As 2021 draws to a close, the main U.S. stock indexes are on pace for their third straight year of stunning annual returns, boosted by historic fiscal and monetary stimulus. The S&P 500 is looking at its strongest three-year performance since 1999.
The focus next year will shift to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s path of interest rate hikes amid a surge in prices caused by supply chain bottlenecks and a strong economic rebound.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.89 billion shares, compared with the 11.15 billion average for the full session over the past 20 trading days.