Dow retakes 36,000, S&P 500 carves out intraday record, as stocks shake off COVID-led flight cancellations to climb

U.S. stock benchmarks rose Monday, with gains in technology shares helping to establish an intraday record for the S&P 500, which could lead to its 69th record close of 2021. But premarket trading showed travel-related names under pressure after surging COVID-19 cases triggered hundreds of U.S. flights to be scrapped.

How are stock benchmarks trading?
The S&P 500
SPX,
+0.58%
rose 23 points, or 0.5%, to 4,749, with the broad-market benchmark setting a intraday record at 4,750.35.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.29%
climbed up 60 points, or 0.2%, to reach 36,011.

The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+0.63%
climbed 105 points, or 0.7%, to 15.760.

Ahead of the long holiday weekend, Thursday’s session saw the S&P 500 rise 0.6% to 4,725.79, a new closing record. The Dow gained 196.67 points, or 0.6%, to end at 35,950.56 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.9% to 15,653. For the week, the Dow rose 1.7%, the S&P 500 gained 2.3% and Nasdaq added 3.2%.What’s driving the stock market? Optimism that the latest wave of COVID-19 won’t disrupt the economy pushed stocks higher last week. That is even as coronavirus upended Christmas travel, and White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against complacency over the omicron variant, which he said could end up swamping hospitals even if many infections appear mild. Hundreds of flights were canceled across the globe over the weekend as surging COVID-19 infections triggered quarantines for airline staff. Shares of American Airlines
AAL,
-2.68%,
Delta Air Lines
DAL,
-2.21%,
Jetblue Airways Corp
JBLU,
-1.70%.
, and United Airlines
UAL,
-2.32%
were down, with cruise operator Carnival
CCL,
-3.42%
also trading lower. Read: Caribbean cruise denied entry by ports due to COVID-19 outbreak While travel was a mess, the retail side of the economy appeared to be holding up, with Mastercard Spending Pulse reporting that holiday sales rose 8.5% against a year earlier, the biggest annual gain in 17 years. The week ahead may see lower volumes than normal, as investors take an extended break. Many will be watching out for the start of the so-called Santa Claus rally, a seasonally bullish period in the last five trading sessions of a year and the first two in the new year. Read: The stock market hasn’t been this stomach-churning in December since 2018. Here’s the setup for the year’s final week. “The focus among investors and traders continues to remain on three important factors. Firstly, the economic data—traders would like to see more strength in the economic numbers, then you have the ongoing omicron COVID infection ratio—this is increasing for the last number of weeks, and finally the hawkish monetary policy stance among central bankers,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade. Aslam said there are concerns that post-New Year’s Eve will see more spikes in infections, or governments clamping down ahead of time. “The fact is that no one wants to see another total lockdown as they have an adverse influence on the economy. The world is still suffering from supply bottleneck shortages due to COVID restrictions introduced last year,” he said, in a note to clients.What stocks are in focus?
BridgeBio Pharma
BBIO,
-70.88%
shares sank 66% in premarket trading after the pharmaceutical company said a Phase 3 trial for a key drug failed to meet key endpoints.

Shares of Microbot Medical Inc. MBOT rocketed toward a nine-month high on heavy volume in premarket trading Monday, after the preclinical medical device company announced an agreement with Stryker Corp. SYK to develop the first dedicated robotic procedural kits for use in certain neurovascular procedures. 

News Corp NWS announced Monday an agreement to buy the Base Chemicals business from S&P Global Inc. SPGI and IHS Markit Ltd. INFO for $295 million in cash. 

How are other assets trading?
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
1.482%
 slipped slightly to 1.482%. Yields and debt prices move opposite each other.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index 
DXY,
+0.08%,
 a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was 0.2% higher.

Oil futures fell, with the U.S. benchmark 
CL00,
-0.22%
down 0.2% to $73.65 a barrel, while gold futures 
GC00,
-0.08%
declined less than 0.1% to $1,810.90 an ounce.

Bitcoin BTCUSD, 0.06% gained 1.2% to $50,817.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index 
SXXP,
+0.51%
was up 0.5%, while London markets were closed in observance of Boxing Day.

The Shanghai Composite 
SHCOMP,
-0.06%
 was flat, while the Hang Seng Index 
HSI,
+0.13%
 was closed and Japan’s Nikkei 225 
NIK,
-0.37%
fell 0.3%.

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