MARKET SNAPSHOT: S&P 500, Dow Close At Records As Tech, Telecom Shares Rally

By Sue Chang, MarketWatch, Ryan VlastelicaFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Bitcoin sees increased fervor as futures trading makes its debut on Sunday, trades relatively smoothly on Monday

U.S. stocks finished higher Monday, with the S&P 500 index and Dow industrials closing at records on the back of a rally in telecommunications and technology shares.

Continue Reading Below

Wall Street shrugged off news of a terrorism incident in the heart of New York City earlier in the session, which resulted in no fatalities. Investors mostly looked ahead to the Federal Reserve's two-day monetary-policy meeting, which is slated to conclude Wednesday.

What are indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 56.87 points, or 0.2%, to 24,386.03 and the S&P 500 rose 8.49 points, or 0.3%, to 2,659.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 35 points, or 0.5%, to 6,875.08.

The telecom sector led the gains, rising 1.2%, and technology shares were lifted by chip makers. Nvidia Corp.(NVDA) rose 1.7%, while Advanced Micro Devices(AMD) gained 2.2%.

What drove the markets?

Investors are focusing on the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, with an updated policy statement set to be released in two days. The central bank is largely expected to deliver its third, and last, interest-rate hike for 2017.

See: Fed getting ready to hike as retail sales, but not inflation, picks up (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-getting-ready-to-hike-as-retail-sales-but-not-inflation-picks-up-2017-11-29)

And read:Stock-market investors aren't afraid of the Fed anymore (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stock-market-investors-arent-afraid-of-the-fed-anymore-2017-12-09)

It is a busy week for central banks, with the European Central Bank and the Bank of England also scheduled to make policy announcements later in the week.

On the data front, the number of job openings in the country fell to under 6 millio (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/job-openings-in-us-slip-from-record-high-2017-12-11)n in October from a record 6.18 million in the prior month. About 5.55 million people were hired and 4.85 million lost their jobs, the Labor Department reported Monday.

In New York, a would-be suicide bomber set off a device at the Port Authority bus terminal (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/possible-explosion-at-new-york-citys-port-authority-bus-terminal-2017-12-11).

What are analysts saying?

"This market has dealt with fires in Napa, two hurricanes, and now this attack, and we just keep rolling along. I think markets will take this right in step and that the rally will stay on its trajectory," said Kevin Miller, chief executive officer of Systelligence LLC, who oversees the E-Valuator Risk Managed Strategy mutual funds.

"Normally you would expect a huge pullback in an environment like this, but there are a lot of reasons this rally is sustainable, and if the tax bill gets passed, the market will continue to go higher."

Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group, expects the Fed to raise interest rates by 25 basis points this week with investors looking for any changes in expectations for future rate increases and the so-called "dot plot", which represents Fed members' projections for interest rates.

Which stocks were in focus?

Shares of insurers such as Travelers Companies Inc.(TRV) and Allstate Corp.(ALL) were pressured after wildfires in Southern California worsened, forcing fresh evacuations in two wealthy communities (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/strong-winds-reenergize-devastating-california-wildfires-2017-12-10) in Santa Barbara County. Travelers fell 0.4% while Allstate closed down 0.1%.

Those insurers are already facing millions of dollars of losses (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/insurance-losses-from-octobers-wine-country-wildfires-top-9-billion-2017-12-06) related to October wildfires in Northern California's Wine Country.

3M Co. (MMM) said it would sell almost all its communication markets business for $900 million. Shares rose 0.5%.

Riot Blockchain Inc.(RIOT) said its TessPay Inc. unit had signed a nonbinding letter of intent to merge (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/riot-blockchains-tesspay-signs-loi-to-merge-with-cresval-capital-2017-12-11-8914351) with Canada's Cresval Capital Corp. (CRV.V). Riot Blockchain shares jumped 46%.

How did other markets fare?

Asian stocks closed higher, led by a 1.1% gain for the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/banks-oil-majors-help-drive-asian-stocks-higher-apple-supplier-hon-hai-rebounds-2017-12-11), while European stocks were mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-edge-lower-as-techs-fall-but-uk-blue-chips-rise-2017-12-11).

Crude-oil prices gained more than 1%, while gold prices settled lower. The ICE Dollar Index was mostly unchanged.

Bitcoin futures debut

Bitcoin will stay in the spotlight, after futures contracts for the cryptocurrency began trading on Cboe Global Market Inc.'s exchange on Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

The launch was accompanied by heavy traffic and a sharp move higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-futures-begin-trading-with-a-bang-cboe-website-stalls-2017-12-10). That volatility triggered two circuit breakers--a two-minute halt after a 10% price jump not too long after trading began, and then a five-minute halt a few hours later, after a 20% price surge.

January bitcoin futures last changed hands at $18,590 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-futures-surge-past-18000-while-the-cryptocurrency-itself-rises-toward-17000-2017-12-11), up from a debut price of $15,000. The price of bitcoin itself was moving higher, in step with futures, rising 17% to $17,092, according to CoinDesk (https://www.coindesk.com/price/).

Read: Bitcoin futures are now open--here's what you need to know to trade (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-futures-heres-what-you-need-to-know-2017-12-09)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-futures-heres-what-you-need-to-know-2017-12-09)--Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this article.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 11, 2017 17:26 ET (22:26 GMT)