Stocks rose Thursday as traders looked beyond new hurdles to key stimulus and spending bills in Washington.
Each of the three major indices ended the session higher, and both the S&P 500 and Dow rose for a second straight day. The real estate and information technology sectors led gains in the blue-chip index, while the energy sector lagged.
The U.S. stock market closed early at 1 p.m. on Thursday, and the bond market will close at 2 p.m. in observation of Christmas Eve. Both the stock and bond markets will close all day on Friday for Christmas Day.
As of Thursday, the period of the typical â€œSanta Claus rallyâ€ had begun. This marks the last five trading days of December and the first two of the new year, when stocks tend to rise amid a wave of optimism around the holiday season and new year. According to LPL Research, stocks were higher over the seven-day trading period 77.9% of the time since 1950.
During the regular session Wednesday, the S&P 500 and Dow ended higher, while the Nasdaq touched a record intraday high before closing slightly lower. Traders largely shrugged off a new roadblock to Congressâ€™s $900 billion stimulus package, as President Donald Trump said he wanted the bill to be amended to include larger direct checks to Americans, among other concerns. However, House Republicans blocked Democratsâ€™ move to try and vote to increase the direct payments to $2,000, from the $600 as written in the bill currently, Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, Trump also vetoed Congressâ€™s annual bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, citing concerns including the fact that it did not include provisions rolling back legal protections for online companies like Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR). However, the bill had passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities, setting up Congress to override Trumpâ€™s veto of the $740 billion bill.
Some more positive economic data out Wednesday helped traders look through the year-end disputes in Washington. New jobless claims fell for the first time in three weeks last week, and the number of Americans joining the longer-term federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program ticked lower.
Other data was less upbeat: Personal spending fell for the first time since April in November, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, and personal income dropped far more than expected. While this may drag down fourth-quarter consumption, many believe the arrival of more stimulus will help provide an at least temporary floor to income and spending, once funds are distributed again to businesses and individuals.
1:00 p.m. ET: S&P 500, Dow post back-to-back sessions of gains as traders shrug of disputes in Washington
Hereâ€™s where the three major indices ended the trading day on Thursday, ahead of Fridayâ€™s market closure:
S&P 500 (^GSPC): 3,703.76, up 13.75 points or 0.37%
DowÂ (^DJI): 30,201.25, up 71.42 points or 0.24%
Nasdaq (^IXIC):Â 12,804.73, up 33.62 points or 0.26%
9:38 a.m. ET: Alibaba shares sink after Beijing opens new antitrust probe
Alibaba (BABA) American depository shares dropped more than 11% in New York on Thursday, after Chinese regulators increased their scrutiny over both the e-commerce giant and its financial technology affiliate, Ant Group.
Beijingâ€™s State Administration for Market Regulation said Thursday that it has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba, and other Chinese regulators also called a meeting with Ant Group to push the company to implement new financial regulations.
For Alibaba, regulators are focusing on reports that the company had pressured merchants into committing to selling goods on its platform and not turning to competitors.
And for Ant Group, the focus of that probe is on its Alipay service, according to the Wall Street Journal. Regulators are reportedly concerned about whether Ant Group has resorted to monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior to maintain its massive base.
The moves come just over a month after Beijing halted Ant Groupâ€™s dual listings in Shanghai and Hong Kong, which were set to be the worldâ€™s largest initial public offering valued at about $34.5 billion.
9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher as traders shrug off Washington disputes
The three major indices opened higher Thursday morning with the S&P 500 and Dow building on Wednesdayâ€™s gains.
The Dow rose about 50 points, or 0.2%, while the S&P 500 increased by approximately the same percentage margin. IBM, Visa and Caterpillar led advances in the Dow, while the information technology and real estate sectors outperformed in the S&P 500.
7:15 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures point to a higher open
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:16 a.m. ET Thursday:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,688.5, up 7 points or 0.19%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,087.00, up 53 points or 0.18%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F):Â 12,666.75, up 15.5 points or 0.12%
Crude (CL=F): -$0.38 (-0.79%) to $47.74 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): +$2.00 (+0.11%) to $1,880.10 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.4 bps to yield 0.941%
6:01 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open flat to slightly higher
Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:01 p.m. ET Wednesday
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,683.75, up 2.25 points or 0.06%
Dow futures (YM=F): 30,072.00, up 38 points or 0.13%
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F):Â 12,659.25, up 8 points or 0.06%