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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 09:06 IST

S&P 500 ekes out meagre gains for US stocks, flirts with bull market confirmation

The benchmark index concluded the light volume session just 0.3 per cent shy of its record closing high which it reached on January 3, 2022.

Business Desk
US Stocks
Unexpected strength of US economy has been a factor in the selloff in the US Treasury market, and the benchmark 10-year yield last stood at 4.917%, down slightly on the day | Image:AP Photo
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The S&P 500 closed nominally higher on Thursday, retracing early gains just before the closing bell on the penultimate trading day of 2023.

The benchmark index concluded the light volume session just 0.3 per cent shy of its record closing high which it reached on January 3, 2022.

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The blue-chip Dow ended modestly green, notching its second record-high closing level in a row, while the Nasdaq finished a hair lower. All three indexes remained on track for monthly, quarterly, and annual gains.

"This is one of the best end-of-year rallies we've ever seen and a lot of this rally happened before the Fed pivot in the middle of December," said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at Carson Group in Omaha.

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"It’s a nice reminder of how far we've come from the depths of the bear market last year and a reminder to investors that dark clouds happen, but the sun always comes out again," Detrick added.

Had the S&P 500 settled above its previous all-time closing high, it would have confirmed that the benchmark index entered a bull market when it reached the bear market closing trough in October 2022.

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"Reaching new highs after two years could be a subtle sign that economic strength could be in the cards for 2024," Detrick said.

Data released on jobless claims, pending home sales and preliminary trade/inventories all painted a picture of a softening but resilient economy.

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This scenario has helped cement bets the US Federal Reserve might cut its policy rate sooner than expected and could pull off a soft landing by avoiding recession.

At last glance, financial markets have priced in a 74.1 per cent probability of policymakers cutting the Fed funds target rate by 25 basis points in March, according to CME's FedWatch tool.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53.58 points, or 0.14 per cent to 37,710.1, while the S&P 500 gained 1.77 points, or 0.04 per cent to 4,783.35. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.04 points, or 0.03 per cent to 15,095.14.

Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, utilities had the largest percentage gain. Energy shares were down the most, weighed by sagging crude prices.

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US-listed shares of Chinese companies including Alibaba Holdings, PDD Holdings and JD.Com Inc advanced between 0.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent as China's blue-chip stocks staged their biggest jump in five months.

CytoSorbents slid 33.4 per cent after the company's device aimed at reducing bleeding during surgery failed to meet the main goal of a study.

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Airplane maker Boeing dipped 0.7 per cent after it urged airlines to inspect newer 737 MAX aeroplanes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.00-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.08-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

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The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 141 new highs and 37 new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 9.46 billion shares, compared with the 12.57 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

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Published December 29th, 2023 at 08:34 IST

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