Stocks closed higher on Wall Street Wednesday, adding to the week’s gains ahead of the Christmas holiday. Technology companies and a mix of retailers led the gains. Every major US index is still on track for weekly gains after a choppy several days where stocks bounced between sharp losses and solid gains, the AP reports. It is a shortened week for traders, with markets closed Friday in observance of Christmas. The S&P 500 rose 47.33 points, or 1%, to 4,696.56. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 261.19 points, or 0.7%, to 35,753.89. The Nasdaq rose 180.81 points, or 1.2%, to 15,521.89. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 18.96 points, or 0.9%, to 2,221.90.
Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending accounted for a big share of the gains. They rose following an encouraging consumer confidence report. Tesla jumped 7.5% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after CEO Elon Musk reportedly said he sold enough stock to reach his goal of selling 10% of his stake in the electric vehicle maker. Technology and health care stocks also helped lift the market. Microsoft rose 1.8% and Abbott Laboratories was up 2.8%. Traders bid up shares in cruise lines, hotel operators, and other travel-related stocks. Carnival rose 3.5%, Marriott gained 2.7% and Expedia Group picked up 2.9%. Utilities and industrial companies lagged the market. Energy futures rose, with the price of US crude oil rising 2.5%.
The latest surge in coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant has been hanging over markets, along with concerns about rising inflation and its impact on economic growth. The Commerce Department on Wednesday said the US economy grew at a 2.3% rate in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought. But prospects for a solid rebound going forward are being clouded by the rapid spread of the latest variant. "The market is a little uncertain about that (omicron), but seems somewhat convinced that it isn’t going to turn into another lockdown," says Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. (Read more stock market stories.)