Wall Street edges higher in quiet pre-Christmas trading

Alex Veiga
Associated Press

Stocks notched modest gains in morning trading on Wall Street Monday, extending the major indexes’ record-setting run at the start of a shortened holiday week.

Shares of Boeing jumped after the company said its CEO was resigning immediately as the crisis related to its marquee 737 Max aircraft drags on. Apache Corp. soared after it announced a joint venture to develop an oil field in Suriname.

Homebuilders were broadly lower after the Commerce Department said U.S. new home sales increased in November at a slower rate than analysts expected. Hovnanian Enterprises fell 1.3%.

U.S. stocks are slightly higher Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, as trading gets off to a quiet start heading into the Christmas holiday weekend. Health care stocks are making small gains and companies that make basic materials are trading slightly lower.

Technology and industrial stocks accounted for most of the gains. Advanced Micro Devices rose 2.9%, American Airlines Group climbed 2%.

Utilities were the biggest laggard. Exelon slid 0.8%.

Trading was expected to be mostly quiet ahead of the Christmas holiday on Wednesday.

Momentum for stocks has been clearly upward for months , driving the major stock indexes to record highs. The benchmark S&P 500 index has finished with a weekly gain in 10 out of the past 11 weeks.

Rising optimism around a “Phase 1” trade deal announced earlier this month between the United States and China has helped put investors in a buying mood. Fears about a possible recession have also faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times, and the central bank appears set to keep them low for a long time.

Keeping score: The S&P 500 was up 0.2% as of 11:46 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 118 points, or 0.4%, to 28,573, and the Nasdaq composite added 0.3%.

Major stock indexes in Europe were mixed.

Maxed out: Boeing rose 2.9% after the Chicago manufacturer said CEO Dennis Muilenburg is stepping down immediately over the company’s troubled Max 737 aircraft. The board’s current chairman David Calhoun will officially take over on January 13.

The board said a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company as it works to repair relationships with regulators and stakeholders. The Max was grounded worldwide in March after two crashes of its jet, killing a combined 346 people.

Slick move: Apache Corp. jumped 12.3% after the company said it has entered into a joint venture to develop an oil field in Suriname.

Disturbance in the force: Walt Disney shares fell 1% after box office receipts for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” couldn’t match the opening weekend performance of its recent predecessors.

The film, the final installment of the “Star Wars” saga, still amassed a $175.5 million debut that ranked as the third largest weekend of the year.

Dialing up a deal: Cincinnati Bell soared 34.2% after the specialty communications company agreed to be acquired by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners in a deal valued at $2.6 billion, including debt.

Bond yields: The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.92% from 1.91% late Friday. The two-year yield climbed to 1.64% from 1.61%, and the 30-year yield held steady at 2.34%.

Commodities: Benchmark U.S. crude oil reversed an early slide, rising 9 cents to $60.53 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 17 cents to $65.37 per barrel.

Gold rose $5.90 to $1,486.80 per ounce.