MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Sets Sights On Record As Rise In Bank, Energy Stocks Buoy Market

By Sara Sjolin and Mark DeCambre, MarketWatchFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Jobless claims are little changed for the week at 245,000

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was headed for a 71st record close on Thursday, 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 are stock benchmarks doing?

The Dow rose 39 points, or 0.2%, to 24,813, led by a rebound in shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) and a rise in shares of Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), Boeing Co.(BA) and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM). A close in record territory would mark the benchmark's first since Dec. 18 and its 71st of 2017, adding to its record tally of all-time highs in a calendar year.

The S&P 500 index advanced 2 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,684,

Consumer staples and tech were the only sectors in negative territory among the S&P 500's 11 sectors, with real-estate, utilities, financials leading the move higher. All were up at least 0.2%.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was trading at break-even levels, up less than 0.1% at 6,942.

The advances come after all three benchmarks closed slightly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/boeing-leads-dow-futures-higher-in-holiday-thinned-session-2017-12-27) in thin trade on Wednesday, with the Dow average ending 0.1% higher, the S&P 500 rising 0.1% and the Nasdaq advancing 3.09 points, or less than 0.1%.

What's driving the markets?

Investors rotated out of tech and in to bank shares and energy names, reversing some of the moves from earlier in the session. However, moves have been slight 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.

Last week, stocks rallied after the 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 are strategist saying?

Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management, said trade is being supported by expectations for further gains in 2018 and an improving economy, on the back of fiscal stimulus measures like corporate tax cuts.

Cote said Thursday's moves reflect "a slowdown in the market," but 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 are in focus?

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp.(CHK) rallied by about 5%, as crude-oil prices perked up following additional signs that crude inventories are being steadily trimmed, setting the stage for possible gains for oil futures headed into 2018.

Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) attempted share rebound, down less than 0.1%, appeared set to fizzle on the back of worries about sales of its iPhone X and reports and reports of lawsuits against the tech giant.

Tesla Inc.(TSLA) rose 1%, after losing 1.8% 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's data are in focus?

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 after South Korea announced tougher measures to crack down on cryptocurrencies trade.

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 settled 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 wavered around the flat line.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 28, 2017 15:12 ET (20:12 GMT)