S&P 500 Set to End at Record High on Retail Sales Cheer

By Reuters
December 27, 2021 Updated: December 27, 2021

The S&P 500 was on track for a record closing high on Monday, as a strong retail sales report underscored the strength of the U.S. economy and overshadowed worries from Omicron-driven flight cancellations that hit stocks in the travel sector.

Retail sales in the country rose 8.5 percent during this year’s holiday shopping season from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, powered by an ecommerce boom, a report by Mastercard Inc. showed.

The S&P 500 retailing index firmed 0.4 percent.

Travel-related stocks, typically sensitive to news around the coronavirus, declined after U.S. airlines canceled about 800 more flights on Monday after nixing thousands of flights during the Christmas weekend, as Omicron cases soared.

The S&P 1500 airlines index shed 0.6 percent. Cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Corp, fell 1.1 percent–2.3 percent, leading declines on the benchmark S&P 500.

“The market is much more likely to respond to Omicron crimping consumer demand, as opposed to it being an issue of airlines not being able to supply the flights,” said Aoifinn Devitt, chief investment officer at Moneta in Chicago.

“That supply issue is a temporary phenomenon that will definitely be disruptive. But it’s a fixable phenomenon.”

Monday’s climb marks a fourth straight session of gain for Wall Street’s main stock indexes after encouraging news last week related to the Omicron variant calmed investor worried about the strain’s economic impact.

All the 11 main S&P 500 sector indexes advanced, with tech leading percentage gains.

At 11:20 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 193.81 points, or 0.54 percent, at 36,144.37 and the S&P 500 was up 40.32 points, or 0.85 percent, at 4,766.11.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 156.77 points, or 1.00 percent, at 15,810.15 on a boost from megacap companies, including Tesla Inc., Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., and Meta Platform, rising between 0.9 percent and 3.3 percent.

Main stock indexes in the United States are eyeing a third straight yearly gain, with the benchmark S&P 500 set for its best three-year performance since 1999. The Dow is eyeing a 17.8 percent annual jump, while the Nasdaq is looking at a 22.1 percent climb.

Looking ahead, thinner-than-usual trading volumes ahead of New Year could make markets susceptible to volatile moves, although the last five trading days of December and the first two days of January have boded well for U.S. stocks 75 percent of the time since 1945, according to CFRA Research data.

GoDaddy Inc. rose 8.9 percent after Activist investor Starboard Value LP has purchased a 6.5 percent stake in web services firm worth about $800 million.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.38-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.20-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 40 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 70 new lows.

By Medha Singh and Anisha Sircar