Nasdaq Composite closes above 9,000 for first time
U.S. stocks powered higher again Thursday, helped by reports of record year-end retail sales, though trading volumes were light and markets were closed in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia for another post-Christmas holiday.
Amazon led the market up, with the stock gaining more than 4% after the e-commerce giant said the holiday shopping season broke all records.
How are benchmarks performing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.37% rose 105.94 points or 0.37% to 28,621.39 and has gained for 9 of the past 11 trading days to post a year-to-date rise of 22.69%.
The S&P 500 SPX, +0.51% gained 16.53 points, or 0.51%, to 3,239.91 for a year-to-date return of 29.24%.
The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.78% rose 69.51 points, or 0.78%, to a new record at 9,022.39 after posting a record close for a 10th straight day, the longest winning streak since July 1997. Year-to-date the Nasdaq has risen 35.98%
Most major markets were closed on Wednesday for Christmas, but on Tuesday the Dow retreated 36 points, or 0.1%, to end at around 28,515.45. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.51% shed 1 point to finish around 3,223.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 7 points, or 0.1%, to end at 8,952.88.
What’s driving the market?
Stocks typically rise in the last few days each year during the so-called Santa Claus rally as funds adjust year end positions.
Market participants are focused on the prospects of completing a phase-one U.S.-China trade deal, with investors encouraged by comments from President Donald Trump and Chinese officials.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said officials from Beijing and Washington were in “close communication about detailed arrangements for the deal’s signing and other follow-up work.” Those comments follow remarks from President Trump, who on Christmas Eve said that the “deal is done, it’s just being translated right now.” Trump also said that he and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, would hold a signing ceremony for the partial trade resolution in January. “We’ll be having a quicker signing because we want to get it done.”
Meanwhile, some investors also drew optimism from a report from Mastercard indicating that total U.S. retail sales for Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve rose 3.4% from a year earlier. Online shopping registered a record 14.6% of total sales, according to Mastercard Spending Pulse.
“Good news on the trade front as Trump said the trade deal will be signed at the White House coupled with 2019 holiday retail sales rising 3.4% better than last year, will likely keep the Bulls Fully in charge,” wrote Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
The number of people filing for U.S. unemployment benefits slid for a second straight week, the Labor Department said, after claims spiked in early December due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The labor market is strong and the economy is still growing meaning corporations are generating revenues and we are confident American C-suite ingenuity will convert sales to earnings next year to keep the stock market in the plus column,” MUFG chief economist Chris Rupkey wrote. “You can buy it now or buy it later.”
Monetary stimulus from central banks has offset the effects of President Trump’s trade war and driven asset prices higher this year. The combined monthly balance-sheet expansion of the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan will end this year at the highest level since 2017 as each hoovers bonds to boost economic growth or ensure money market liquidity.
A report on the Fed’s balance sheet and money supply is due at 4:30 p.m. ET.
What stocks are in focus?
Amazon AMZN, +4.45% soared 4.45% to $1,868.77, its highest close since July 31 after claiming it had its best holiday sales season ever.
Apple AAPL, +1.98% gained 1.98% to a record high at $289.91, leading the Dow up, with analysts encouraged by its performance the face of the U.S. – China dispute and with the advent of 5G to come.
Tiffany TIF, +0.02% said Thursday “interim holiday sales rose 1% to 3% compared to last year, but the luxury retailer’s stock was little changed at $133.62
Tesla Inc. TSLA, +1.34% shares rose 1.34% to $430.94 after Wedbush analyst Dan Ives raised his price target for the stock by $100, to a level that’s about $50 lower than current trading activity.
Shares of Boeing BA, -0.92% slipped nearly 1% Thursday. All eyes are on the Dow component, which on Monday replaced its CEO in an effort to right itself after months of missteps.
How are other markets trading?
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.08% was little changed around 1.90%.
Oil prices moved to settle at their highest since September 16 in the wake of a fall in U.S. inventories in weekly data reported late Tuesday before the Christmas holiday. West Texas Intermediate Crude CL00, +0.32% rose 0.9% to $61.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures settled above $1,500 an ounce Thursday, marking a third session of gains in a row and the highest finish for the precious metal since the end of October. Gold prices GCG20, +0.02% rose 0.6% to $1,514.40.
The U.S. dollar DXY, -0.39% edged lower relative to a basket of its rivals, with the ICE Dollar index, a measure of the buck against six rival currencies, down 0.1%.
In Asia overnight, stocks were higher. The China CSI 000300, -0.10% closed up 35 points or 0.%, Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.36% rose 0.6% or 142 points, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +1.30% was closed.
European stock markets were closed.