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Dec. 22, 2021, 4:24 p.m. EST

Dow closes over 260 points higher Wednesday and stocks book 2nd straight gain as omicron fears subside

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By Mark DeCambre and Barbara Kollmeyer

U.S. stock indexes logged a second straight gain on Wednesday, with benchmarks adding substantially to Tuesday’s strong rebound in what has been a volatile holiday-shortened week.

Uncertainty about the economic impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus has been at the center of the market’s recent gyrations, with upbeat data on Wednesday helping to support some further buying. And low-volume trade has added to the seesaw action.

How are stock benchmarks trading?

  • The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +2.39% traded 47.33 points, or 1%, higher at 4,696.56.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.47% rose 261.19 points, or 0.7%, to close at 35,753.89.

  • The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +3.82% climbed 180.81 points, or 1.2%, to reach 15,521.89.

  • For the week, the Dow is up 1.1%, the S&P 500 is up 1.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite has climbed 2.3%.

  • For the month, the Dow has advanced 3.7%, the S&P 500 has gained 2.8% so far in December, while the Nasdaq Composite is still off 0.1% thus far in the month to date, highlighting a big turnaround for equity benchmarks since Monday’s session .

On Tuesday , the Dow industrials surged 560.54 points, or 1.6%, to end at 35,492.70, the best daily percentage gain since Dec. 6, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The S&P 500 advanced 1.8% to 4,649.23, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 2.4% to 15,341.09.

Read: Why growth and dividend stocks will be hot items for 2022, along with these super-productive companies

What’s driving the markets?

Markets marched higher for another session, but volatility has been the name of the game this week, as Wall Street assesses the economic and financial landscape in the final few sessions of 2021. Many financial exchanges will be closed on Friday in observance of Christmas.

After a tepid opening Wednesday, all 11 sectors of the S&P 500 closed in positive territory, with consumer discretionary /zigman2/quotes/210600228/delayed XX:SP500.25 +4.10% and healthcare /zigman2/quotes/210600439/delayed XX:SP500.35 +1.05% leading sector gains.

Economic data helped, with the U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product raised to show expansion of 2.3% from a previous 2.1%.

Meanwhile, a closely watched consumer confidence survey came in stronger than expected, rising to 115.8 in December from a reading of 111.9 in the prior month,  The Conference Board said Wednesday. It’s not clear if that reading factors the impact of the spread of omicron, which was first identified in late November and has gained steam since.

“This means that the impact on confidence from the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has not been fully reflected in the survey,” wrote Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, in a Wednesday research note.

“Consumers were a bit less pessimistic about inflation, but the 12-month inflation expectations rate remained very high at 6.9%, down from 7.3% in November,” the Oxford Economics economist wrote. “Consumers’ outlook for the labor market and income remained upbeat, but less ebullient than in November,” she said.  

Separately, a report on existing-home sales rose 1.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.46 million in November, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That is the third straight monthly gain. Compared with November 2020, home sales were down 2%.

Investors, however, appeared to react to positive news about the omicron variant.

+93.81 +2.39%
Volume: 2.54B
May 13, 2022 4:57p
US : Dow Jones Global
+466.36 +1.47%
Volume: 388.52M
May 13, 2022 4:57p
US : Nasdaq
+434.04 +3.82%
Volume: 5.10M
May 13, 2022 5:16p
add Add to watchlist XX:SP500.25
+46.75 +4.10%
Volume: 0.00
May 13, 2022 4:57p
add Add to watchlist XX:SP500.35
+15.60 +1.05%
Volume: 0.00
May 13, 2022 4:57p
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