23 December (UPI) — Investors continued to brush off Omicron’s concerns amid positive economic data, as US markets edged up slightly on Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 196.67 points, or 0.55%, while the S&P 500 ended the day up 0.62% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.85%.
Investors reacted as the Labor Department reported maintaining a downward trend of 205,000 initial jobless claims since the height of the pandemic, while new US home sales also hit a seven-month high of 744,000 amid lower mortgage rates and higher demands. but increased by 12.4%.
The market also reacted to positive developments related to the pandemic as two scientific studies indicated that Omicron appears to be milder than prior strains such as Delta, but it still has the potential to kill and overwhelm hospitals around the world.
On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration also approved emergency use authorization for Merck’s antiviral COVID-19 pill, a day after giving similar approval to a pill made by Pfizer.
However, Merck shares fell 0.56 per cent and Pfizer 1.41 per cent.
Stocks rose broadly, but bank stocks rose in modest numbers, with Wells Fargo up 0.69% and JPMorgan Chase stock up 0.36%.
Major tech stocks also rose as Nvidia gained 0.82% and Microsoft 0.45%.
“Most of the stock market rally this week has been due to last week’s fears and the sigh of relief has finally stopped,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group, according to CNBC. “Once the market hit higher, dip-buyers, not wanting to miss the Santa rally, took over.”
All three major averages closed higher for the week, with markets closing in on Friday for the Christmas holiday, with the Dow up 1.6%, the S&P 2.3% and the Nasdaq Composite up 3.2%.