U.S. stocks rose Thursday after the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average reached new record highs in the previous session.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 110 points, or 0.3%. The S&P 500 rose 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite ticked up 0.1%.
Thursday is the second-last trading session of 2021. The end of the year is a historically strong period for stocks, which has been dubbed the “Santa Claus rally.” The S&P 500 has risen during the period — the last five trading days of the year followed by the first two sessions in January — 78.5% of the time since 1928, according to Bank of America.
“Santa has been good to investors this holiday season, and we look for another year of positive returns in 2022,” said Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
Travel-related stocks rebounded Thursday after seesawing in trading this week as investors monitor developments with the omicron Covid variant. Norwegian Cruise Line rose 2.1% and Carnival gained 1.8%.
Financial stocks inched higher with American Express, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs among the leaders on the Dow.
Meanwhile, Biogen slid more than 5% on Thursday after Samsung denied a report in The Korea Economic Daily that it was in talks to buy Biogen. The stock led decliners on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite. Biogen shares had surged 9.5% on Wednesday on the report.
Chip stocks struggled with Micron Technology and AMD lower. Micron on Wednesday warned Covid-related closures in China are impacting the company’s production output.
On the data front, jobless claims last week came in lower than expected, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Initial claims totaled 198,000 for the week ended Dec. 25, while economists surveyed by Dow Jones projected 205,000.
On Wednesday the S&P 500 posted its 70th record close of the year. This year has seen the second-highest number of record closes for the benchmark index during a calendar year, trailing just 1995’s 77 record closing highs. The Dow also closed at its first high since November and saw its sixth-straight positive session.
All three major averages are up for the month of December. The S&P and Dow are on pace for a second positive month in the last three, while the Nasdaq Composite is on track for a third straight month of gains.
For the year, the S&P is up more than 27% and the Dow is up more than 19%. The Nasdaq has gained roughly 22%, while the Russell 2000 is up nearly 14%.