Jobless claims are little changed for the week at 245,000
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday logged its 71st record close in 2017, buoyed mostly by gains in bank shares and a slight pick up in energy and materials, as crude-oil prices perked up in seasonally light trading volume.
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What did stock benchmarks do?
The Dow rose 62.21 points, or 0.3%, to 24,837.51, led by a rally in shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) and a rise in shares of Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) . The finish at an all-time high marks the blue-chip average's first record since Dec. 18, adding to its record-setting tally of all-time peaks in a calendar year.
The S&P 500 index advanced 4.92 points, or 0.2%, to 2,687.54, with only consumer staples ending in negative territory, down 0.2%, of the S&P 500's 11 sectors. Financials, up 0.4%, led the way higher.
The Nasdaq Composite Index closed trading up 10.82 points, or 0.2%, at 6,950.16.
All three of the main equity benchmarks finished near session highs, supported by late-session bids.
What drove the markets?
Trading has been muted as investors have little incentive to make decisive bets on assets perceived as risky in the penultimate session of trade ahead of the New Year's holiday on Monday. However, Thursday's late burst higher suggests that investors aren't ready to dump stocks going into next year.
Moreover, expectations are growing that President Donald Trump's administration will shift attention to a $1 trillion infrastructure-spending bill, which could deliver a further jolt to Wall Street buying after Republicans passed the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years as well as a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded into early 2018.
What did strategists say?
Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management, said "as what usually happens in January, I expect big action not only in the markets but in the fundamentals of the economy which really ultimately drive the market."
Which stocks were in focus?
Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp.(CHK) rallied by 4%, as crude-oil prices pivoted higher late in the session, as additional signs that crude inventories are being steadily trimmed, setting the stage for possible gains for oil futures headed into 2018, took hold.
Apple Inc. (AAPL) rose 0.3%, attempting to rebound for the week after worries about sales of its iPhone X and reports of lawsuits against the tech giant dragged the company's stock lower.
Tesla Inc.(TSLA) rose 1.2%, paring some of its 1.8% loss on Wednesday when KeyBanc analysts slashed their fourth-quarter estimates for Model 3 deliveries to about 5,000 from 15,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-shares-dip-after-keybanc-slashes-model-3-estimates-2017-12-27).
What did the data say?
The purchasing managers index for Chicago showed a rise of 67.6 in December from 63.9 in the previous month, compared with expectations for 62. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.
Initial U.S. jobless claims, a tool to measure layoffs, were unchanged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-stick-to-245000-in-week-before-christmas-2017-12-28)at 245,000 last week. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 239,000.
Meanwhile, the U.S. deficit in goods increased 2.3% in November to $69.7 billion.
What did other markets do?
Bitcoin prices plunged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-tumbles-almost-10-as-south-korea-moves-to-curb-crypto-trade-2017-12-28), with spot prices down about 9% after South Korea announced tougher measures to crack down on cryptocurrency trading.
The dollar dropped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-index-drops-to-multiweek-lows-after-us-bond-yields-tumble-2017-12-28) against most other major currencies, with the ICE index down 0.5% at 92.60, marking its lowest level in about three months. The broad-based dollar selloff came after U.S. Treasury yields tumbled on Wednesday.
Metals were mostly higher, with gold prices settling at a 10-week high at $1,297.20 an ounce.
Asian stocks closed mostly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tech-stocks-lead-recovery-in-asian-markets-2017-12-27), while European markets were largely flat.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 28, 2017 16:31 ET (21:31 GMT)