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S&P 500 ends at record on retail cheer

The S&P 500 index closed at a record high on Monday, its fourth straight session of gains, as strong US retail sales underscored economic strength and eased worries from Omicron-driven flight cancellations that hit travel stocks.

The rally is the longest since an eight-day streak that ended on November 8.

US holiday season retail sales rose 8.5 per cent from November 1 to December 24, powered by an ecommerce boom, according to a Mastercard Inc report, which helped the S&P 500 retailing index gain on the session.

Travel-related stocks, typically sensitive to coronavirus news, declined after US airlines cancelled 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 declined. Cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corp all fell, leading declines on the benchmark S&P 500.

“The market is in this interesting place where we have a strong consumer, with spending up eight per cent year over year. Personal consumption makes up 70 per cent of our GDP, and that remains flush,” said Sylvia Jablonski Kampaktsis, chief investment officer and co-founder at Defiance ETFs in New York.

“Omicron reminds us that we still exist in this corona ecosystem. And it’ll probably be one of many things that we will continue talking about with this virus but the doomsday COVID scenario of 2020 feels like it’s far behind us.”

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

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

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 65.21 points, or 1.39 per cent, to end at 4,791.00 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 216.53 points, or 1.38 per cent, to 15,869.90. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 350.63 points, or 0.98 per cent, to 36,301.19.

The Nasdaq Composite got a boost from megacap companies, including Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp , Apple Inc and Meta Platform.

Main US stock indexes are on track for a third straight yearly gain, with the benchmark S&P 500 set for its best three-year performance since 1999.

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