NEW YORK CITY, RAW – Wall Street’s main indexes climbed on Wednesday in a broad rally after upbeat economic data and hopeful developments about the severity of the Omicron coronavirus variant that is sweeping the world.
Stocks gained for a second straight session as volatility has ratcheted up in the last month of 2021 following the arrival of Omicron and an otherwise strong year for equities.
A South African study suggested reduced risks of hospitalisation and severe disease in people infected with the Omicron variant versus the Delta one, but World Health Organisation officials cautioned that it was too soon to draw firm conclusions.
“We are still struggling for direction in the face of the Omicron outbreak, but in the past few days … more and more evidence is building that the strain is potentially less severe than prior strains, specifically Delta, which bodes well for economic momentum in 2022,” said Mike Stritch, chief investment officer at BMO Wealth Management.
According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 47.50 points, or 1.02 per cent, to end at 4,696.73 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 180.81 points, or 1.18 per cent, to 15,521.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 262.58 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 35,755.28.
Tesla Inc shares rose, boosting the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said in an interview he has sold “enough stock” following several weeks of share sales by the billionaire.
US consumer confidence improved further in December, suggesting the economy would continue to expand in 2022. The survey from the Conference Board showed more consumers planned to buy a house and big-ticket items such as motor vehicles and major household appliances as well as go on vacation over the next six months.
Other reports showed US home sales increased for a third consecutive month in November, and that gross domestic product increased at a 2.3 per cent annualised rate in the July-September quarter, revised up from the 2.1 per cent rate estimated last month.
In another encouraging development against the pandemic, the US authorised Pfizer Inc’s oral antiviral COVID-19 pill for at-risk people aged 12 and above, making it the first at-home treatment for the coronavirus.
The benchmark S&P 500 is now up about 24.5 per cent so far in 2021.