Steady gains leave indexes higher in holiday-shortened week

Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga
Associated Press

Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Thursday, leaving major indexes with solid gains in this holiday-shortened week.

The S&P 500 closed at another record high. The benchmark index rose 0.6%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6% and the Nasdaq rose 0.8%.

Technology companies and retailers did especially well, while safe-play sectors like real estate and utilities lagged behind. Energy prices rose.

European and Asian markets also closed higher.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.49%.

U.S. markets will be closed Friday in observance of Christmas.

Cisco systems, which makes routers and other computer hardware, rose 1.2%. Chipmaker Micron Technology rose 5%.

Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending gained ground. Tesla jumped 5.6% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Target rose 1.5% and Domino’s Pizza rose 2.6%.

Investors received several economic updates on Thursday before heading into a holiday break for markets.

The Commerce Department reported that U.S. consumer prices rose 5.7% in November versus a year earlier, the fastest pace in 39 years, as a surge in inflation confronts Americans with the holiday shopping season under way. Businesses have been dealing with supply chain problems and higher raw materials costs, and in turn passing those costs off to consumers.

The higher prices have raised concern that consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity, could soften and hurt economic growth. The latest report shows that spending rose 0.6%, well below the 1.4% surge in October.

The housing market remains strong, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales of new single-family homes rose 12.4% in November, the fastest pace in seven months. Homebuilder shares were mostly higher following the report. PulteGroup rose 0.7%.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, remaining at a historically low level that reflects the job market’s strong recovery from the coronavirus recession last year.

The latest data on prices and jobs comes as investors continue gauging the potential impact from the latest surge in coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant. Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to relax curbs already in place.