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U.S. stocks wavered Tuesday morning after the S&P 500 closed at another record high in the previous trading session amid an all-around strong day for markets that jump-started the anticipated year-end bull run known to investors as the Santa Claus Rally.
The S&P 500 and Dow were up at open, while the Nasdaq Composite dipped slightly.
For the second consecutive day of trading, the S&P 500 soared past its previous peak, marking the benchmark’s 69th record close of the year along with broader market advances in the final stretch of 2021.
The moves suggest that a Santa Claus Rally — one in which stocks climb higher in the final five trading sessions of a year, plus the first two trading days of the new year — is so far underway. Over the past 92 years, the S&P 500 gained 77% of the time during the year-end rally period, according to data from Sundial Capital Research. The average gain in this seven-day trading period tallied 2.66%.
The advances come even as cases of Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant, surged. December was a volatile month for investors who weighed the strain’s impact on the economy, but recent developments that indicate the Omicron virus is far less likely to lead to hospitalizations helped ease some earlier concerns.
“Beyond vaccines, treatment options are becoming more available,” Rik Mehta, an FDA official and Georgetown University health law professor, told Yahoo Finance Live. “That will keep people that are vaccinated and unvaccinated out of the hospitals and from developing severe infection. That’s going to be a game changer for this.”
Meanwhile, travel stocks were a dark spot in the earlier session’s rally. Shares of U.S. airline companies took a hit following news of more than 2,800 canceled flights over the Christmas weekend and into Monday. Disruptions and delays were the result of staffing shortages caused by an uptick of COVID-19 cases among crews and personnel.
American Airlines (AAL) closed down 0.49% to $18.17 per share, United Airlines (UAL) traded 0.65% lower at $44.58 per share, and Delta Air Lines (DAL) slipped 0.76% to $39.00 per share.
“If the stocks are down, now is the time to buy,” DLB Financial Services CEO Debbie Boyd told Yahoo Finance Live as she discussed airline companies. “Think of those stocks being down as on sale.”
The rest of the week is expected to be mostly quiet for investors, with trading volumes low and a light calendar of economic data and earnings releases.
“We’re going to have a very strong January,” Navellier & Associates founder and CIO Louis Navellier told Yahoo Finance Live. “If we can rally on light volume, we’re going to get an explosion to the upside when the volume increases in January.”
The market will head into 2022 with several key considerations to weigh but with its biggest focus on the course of the pandemic and rising inflationary pressures, as well as on measures the Federal Reserve could take in response.
“Inflation and Omicron are the two most important catalysts for the stock market right now,” APAC CEO at Qraft Technologies Francis Oh told Yahoo Finance. “I think that those catalysts are priced in through the market volatility… still I think the market will cautiously move off.”
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