Wall Street Hits Records in Broad Rally, Volume Light

Markets Reuters

U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with major indexes hitting records and on track for a second straight weekly advance, though trading was light with many traders still out for the Christmas holiday.

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The day's gain was broad, with all 10 S&P 500 industry sectors higher on the day. The advance continued Wall Street's recent upward bias, with the S&P up about 6 percent from a recent closing low hit earlier this month.

The S&P is on track for its 52nd record close of the year, the most since 1995 and the fourth-best annual record ever, while the Dow is on track for its seventh straight daily gain, its longest streak since March 2013.

"The overall trend remains higher, but we're reaching a point where we're overbought. Six percent since last Tuesday is such a strong move in such a short period of time, even if bulls have the upper hand in the longer term," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

Recent gains have come on strong economic data, including a bullish read on economic growth earlier this week, as well as accommodative measures from central banks. Chinese media this week reported that the country's central bank was moving to further ease liquidity conditions inside banks.

The Nasdaq biotech index <.NBI> rose 1.6 percent, though it remains down 3.8 percent in a week marked by heavy volatility. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals <REGN.O> rose 2.7 percent to $410.80 as one of the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainers, followed by Celgene Corp <CELG.O>, up 2.5 percent to $112.37.

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At 12:40 p.m. (1740 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 44.18 points, or 0.25 percent, to 18,074.39, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 8.13 points, or 0.39 percent, to 2,090.01 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 28.94 points, or 0.61 percent, to 4,802.41.

For the week, the Dow is up 1.5 percent, the S&P 500 is up 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq is up 0.8 percent. It is the second straight weekly gain for all three, and the ninth positive week in the past ten for the Dow and S&P.

The S&P Retail index <.SPXRT> rose 0.5 percent in the first trading session after Christmas. Among notable names, Best Buy Co <BBY.N> rose 1 percent to $39.29 while Macy's Inc <M.N> dipped 0.5 percent to $63.96. Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O> rose 2 percent to $309.

"The data still isn't in yet, but things are looking positive since the shopping season coincided with a big drop in crude oil, which means lower gas prices," Sarhan said. "That translates to more disposable income, which could mean stronger retail sales."

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,111 to 838, for a 2.52-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,742 issues rose and 891 fell for a 1.96-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 61 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 86 new highs and 21 new lows.

(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)