NEW YORK CITY, RAW – Wall Street’s main indexes rose sharply for a third straight session on Thursday after encouraging developments gave investors more ease about the economic impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant, lifting the mood ahead of Christmas break.
Gains were broad with industrials and consumer discretionary among the top-performing sectors.
Vaccine makers AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc said their shots protected against Omicron as UK data suggested it may cause proportionally fewer hospital cases than the Delta variant, though public health experts warned the battle against COVID-19 was far from over.
The arrival of Omicron has helped ratchet up market volatility for much of the last month of 2021, which has been a strong year for equities.
“There was a lot of negative sentiment coming into the final part of the year, and investors have likely continued to see pretty strong economic growth and pretty positive developments as it relates to healthcare innovation around COVID and that is putting in a bit of a bid into equities and causing investors to look to allocate capital as they close out the year,” said Matthew Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management.
According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 29.15 points, or 0.62 per cent, to end at 4,725.71 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 127.54 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 15,649.43. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 194.73 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 35,948.62. Defensive sectors, which have mostly outperformed in December, generally lagged on Thursday.
The S&P 500 has gained for three days, after falling in the three prior sessions.
“People are seeing the strength on Tuesday and Wednesday and all of a sudden everybody is more optimistic again,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth Management.
Trading volumes were expected to be thinner than usual ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays. The stock market will be closed on Friday in observance of the Christmas holiday.
In another medical development against the pandemic, the United States authorised Merck & Co’s antiviral pill for COVID-19 for certain high-risk adult patients, a day after giving a broader go-ahead to a similar but more effective treatment from Pfizer Inc.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits held below pre-pandemic levels last week as the labour market tightens, while consumer spending increased solidly, putting the economy on track for a strong finish to 2021.
Tesla Inc shares rose, gaining sharply for a second day after Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday he was “almost done” with his stock sales after selling over $US15 billion ($A21 billion) worth since early November.