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Nasdaq tops 9,000 for the first time as stocks climb to new records

Christmas decorations adorn the facade of the New York Stock Exchange in December 2017.
Christmas decorations adorn the facade of the New York Stock Exchange in December 2017.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Retailers and technology companies powered stocks broadly higher on Wall Street on Thursday, extending the market’s record-setting run.

The Nasdaq composite climbed above 9,000 points for the first time as Apple led technology stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index also climbed to new highs. The benchmark index is on track for its best year since 2013.

Thursday’s gains came as investors welcomed a report showing that a last-minute surge in online shopping helped lift holiday sales. The data gave a boost to shares of Amazon and big department store chains such as Macy’s and Nordstrom.

“That’s just a confirmation that the consumer is incredibly strong and resilient and helping to power the economy to better numbers,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director for U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

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The S&P 500 rose 16.53 points, or 0.5%, to 3,239.91. The index, which previously set a record high Monday, has finished with a weekly gain 10 of the last 11 weeks.

The Dow rose 105.94 points, or 0.4%, to 28,621.39. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 69.51 points, or 0.8%, to 9,022.39, extending its winning streak to 11 days.

Smaller-company stocks lagged behind the broader market, leaving the Russell 2000 index essentially flat. The index slipped 0.34 points, or less than 0.1%, to 1,677.67.

Bond prices were little changed. The 10-year Treasury yield held steady at 1.90%.

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Trading volume was lighter than usual Thursday as U.S. markets reopened after the Christmas holiday.

The major stock indexes are on pace to close out the year on a strong note after moving mostly higher since early October. Fears about a possible recession have faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times, and the central bank appears set to keep them low for a long time.

A “phase one” U.S.-China trade deal announced this month helped solidify investors’ optimism. The result has been a year-end market rally that has the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 on pace for solid to stellar gains.

Still, as traders turn their attention to 2020, fears about the outlook for the global economy remain, as do concerns over unresolved trade issues between Washington and Beijing. Next year also has the added complication of the U.S. presidential election.

“Trade will continue to be a factor that drives short-term market volatility,” Kravetz said. “But if you look at the other factors, the more fundamental economic factors — consumer and business sentiment — those are the ones which are really keeping investors in the game and more confident.”

The last five days of December and the first two of the new year have historically been a positive period for the market. Stocks have brought an average gain of 1.3% over that stretch since 1950, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

Technology stocks continued to lead the way Thursday. The sector, which is on pace for its best year since 2009, is up 48.3% so far this year, well above the other sectors in the S&P 500. Apple was the sector’s biggest gainer for the day, climbing 2%.

Big retailers also rallied following a report from Mastercard SpendingPulse showing growth in holiday retail sales.

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Amazon shares led the pack, climbing 4.5%, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Macy’s shares rose 2.6%. Nordstrom advanced 1.8%, and Gap gained 1.6%

Healthcare stocks were the only decliners. Incyte fell 2.9%.

Other health-sector stocks fared better. Immunomedics climbed 5.7% after the biopharmaceutical company said that the FDA accepted its application for accelerated approval of a breast-cancer therapy.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 57 cents to settle at $61.68 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, climbed 72 cents to close at $67.92 a barrel.

The rise in oil prices helped lift some energy-sector stocks. Diamondback Energy gained 1.3%.

Mining company stocks rose along with the price of gold, which climbed $9.60 to $1,514.40 an ounce. Newmont Goldcorp shares rose 1.2%, while Freeport-McMoRan shares advanced 1.4%.


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