S&P 500 aims for fresh record close Tuesday

U.S. stock benchmarks traded mixed but were mostly edging higher Tuesday morning, with the S&P 500 on track for a record close — its 70th of 2021—as investors look toward 2022 with optimism, despite record COVID-19 cases resulting from the spread of the omicron variant.How are stock-index futures trading?
The S&P 500
SPX,
+0.13%
rose 6 points, or 0.1%, to reach 4,797 after setting an intraday record at 4,807.02. The index was heading for its 70th record close of 2021.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.45%
rose 169 points, or 0.5%, to 36,474, buoyed by gains in UnitedHealth Group Inc.
UNH,
+0.78%
and Boeing Co.
BA,
+1.55%

The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-0.18%
slipped 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to 15,873.

On Monday, the S&P 500 rose 65.40 points, or 1.4%, to 4,791.19, its 69th record finish for 2021. The Dow climbed 351.82 points, or 1%, to end at 36,302.38, its fourth-highest close in history. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 217.89 points, or 1.4%, to close at 15,871.26.

What’s driving markets? Investors are increasingly betting that the spread of the omicron variant won’t capsize economic growth, even if expectations for another powerful run-up in stocks seems doubtful following outsize gains in 2021. So far, the market is off to its best so-called Santa Rally, which tends to show up for U.S. stocks in the final week of December and first two trading sessions of January, in about two decades. “It seems that last week’s reports confirming that the omicron coronavirus variant is not as deadly as prior strains, kept market participants willing to increase their exposure this week as well,” said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group. While the omicron variant spreads around the globe, particularly wreaking havoc on holiday travel due to rising cases among airline staff in particular, investors have taken heart from news Monday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut its recommended COVID-19 isolation time to five days, from 10, if affected individuals are symptom-free. Still, Apple
AAPL,
+0.20%
said it would temporarily close 11 New York City stores as a precaution against rising cases. And major cities around the world, including New York City, are paring down New Year’s Eve celebrations as a way of combating the virus’ spread. The iPhone maker’s shares were headed lower, down 0.3%. Read: Big Tech heads for ‘a year of thousands of tiny tech papercuts,’ but what antitrust efforts could make them bleed? In a light week for U.S. economic data, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city price index posted a 18.4% year-over-year gain in October, down from 19.1% the previous month, pointing to the second consecutive month that home-price appreciation occurred at a slower pace. Monthly, the index increased 0.8% between September and October. Meanwhile, China Evergrande Group
3333,
+9.46%

EGRNF,
+5.77%,
the heavily indebted real-estate developer, said on Tuesday that construction work had resumed at more than 90% of its stalled residential projects. Which companies are in focus?
Shares of Digital Turbine Inc. APPS were up 3.1% in focus Tuesday, after the media and mobile communications company announced a multiyear partnership with Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL
GOOG,
-0.65%
Google.

Shares of Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals Ltd. KNSA were in off 1.5% Tuesday, after the biopharmaceutical company said a Phase 3 trial of mavrilimumab for treatment of COVID-19-related acute respiratory syndrome (ARDS) failed to meet the primary efficacy endpoint.

Mercury Systems Inc. MRCY said Tuesday that it has adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan, also known as a “poison pill,” as protection from a hostile takeover during a period in which the aerospace and defense technologies company believes its stock is undervalued. Its stock was up 1.3%.

How are other assets faring?
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y slipped 2.3 basis points to around 1.46%. Yields and debt prices move opposite each other.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was flat.

Oil futures rose, with the U.S. benchmark CL00 adding 0.9% to trade at $76.25 a barrel, while gold futures GC00, gained 0.2% to trade at $1,812.60 an ounce.

Bitcoin BTCUSD was edging down to around $49,050, after testing a rise toward $52,000.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP traded up 0.6%, while London markets were closed.

The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP closed 0.4% higher, while the Hang Seng Index HSI finished up 0.2% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK closed 1.4% higher, while China’s CSI 300
000300,
+0.74%
rose 0.7%.

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