Stocks initially showed a lack of direction but moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. With the upward move, the major averages extended the substantial rebound seen in the previous session.
The major averages saw further upside going into the close, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow climbed 261.19 points or 0.7 percent to 35,753.89, the Nasdaq surged 180.81 points or 1.2 percent to 15,521.89 and the S&P 500 jumped 47.33 points or 1 percent at 4,696.56.
The strength that emerged on Wall Street may partly have reflected a positive reaction to the latest U.S. economic data, including a report from the Conference Board showing consumer confidence improved by much more than expected in the month of December.
The report showed the consumer confidence index climbed to 115.8 in December from an upwardly revised 111.9 in November.
Economists had been expecting the consumer confidence index to inch up to 110.7 from the 109.5 originally reported for the previous month.
Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, noted concerns about both inflation and Covid-10 declined despite reports of continued price increases and the emergence of the Omicron variant.
A slew of U.S. economic data is scheduled to be released on Thursday, including reports on weekly jobless claims, durable goods orders, personal income and spending, and new home sales.
Traders will be looking to get a head start on the Christmas weekend but are still likely to keep an eye on the data for clues about the economic outlook.
Housing stocks saw substantial strength on the day, resulting in a 2 percent jump by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index.
The strength among housing starts came after the National Association of Realtors released a report showing existing home sales climbed to a ten-month high in November.
NAR said existing home sales jumped 1.9 percent to an annual rate of 6.46 million in November after climbing by 0.8 percent to a rate of 6.34 million in October.
Significant strength also emerged among gold stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.
Gold stocks moved higher along with the price of the precious metal, with gold for February delivery climbing $13.50 to $1,802.20 an ounce.
Software, pharmaceutical and healthcare stocks also saw notable strength on the day, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.6 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.6 percent, the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index shot up by 1.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries regained ground after moving lower over the two previous sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 3 basis points to 1.457 percent.
The latest batch of U.S. economic data may attract attention on Thursday, although trading activity is likely to be somewhat subdued ahead of the holiday weekend.
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