NEW YORK: US stocks rose yesterday, putting the Dow on track for a record closing high for a sixth straight day as retail names rallied following strong data about the holiday shopping season.
Trading volume was light in the first full day of trading since Monday, following an early close on Tuesday and Wednesday’s Christmas holiday.
While the market’s light action could amplify trading volatility, Wall Street’s recent upward bias continued, with the Dow on track for its longest winning streak since March. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at record highs on Tuesday. Retailers lead Wall Street higher
“I don’t get why we seem to have an eternally upward market, but it looks like that’s what we have,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. “There’s no reason to sell stocks, but also not much reason to buy except for that fact that we continue to be poised to go higher.”
In a positive sign for economic growth, initial jobless claims fell 42,000 in the latest week, dropping to 338,000 — the lowest level in nearly a month. Analysts had expected 345,000 new claims.
Retail stocks stayed in the spotlight as the holiday shopping season drew to a close. Data published by MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said sales between November 1 and December 24 rose 2.3 percent, bucking concerns that the season had been weak.
The S&P retail index jumped 0.8 percent. The stock of Urban Outfitters rose 2.8 percent to $37.81 and was the S&P 500’s biggest percentage gainer. Online retailer Amazon.com Inc gained 1 percent to $403.12.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 118.58 points, or 0.72 percent, at 16,476.13. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 8.25 points, or 0.45 percent, at 1,841.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.74 points, or 0.26 percent, at 4,166.16.
The Dow climbed to an all-time intraday high of 16,480.64, while the S&P 500 hit a record intraday high of 1,842.26. Energy shares also climbed. ExxonMobil Corp shot up 1.8 percent to $100.97 and helped boost the Dow. Chevron Corp, another Dow component, rose 1.1 percent to $124.86.
At the end of Tuesday’s abbreviated trading session, the Dow marked its fifth straight record closing high and the S&P 500 achieved its third record closing high in a row. The S&P 500 has soared almost 29 percent this year, largely due to stimulus from the US Federal Reserve. The index is on track for its best year since 1997. The Dow is up 25.2 percent in 2013 while the Nasdaq has jumped about 38 percent.