The S&P 500 rose Wednesday, eking out its 70th record close of 2021.
The Dow Jones Industrials stayed positive 90.42 points to finish at 36,488.63. The blue-chip average closed at a record for the first time since November and posted its sixth-straight winning day.
The S&P 500 index marched ahead 6.71 points to 4,793.06. The S&P 500 has closed at a record 28% of the time in 2021. This year has seen the second-highest number of record closes ever, behind 77 closing highs in 1995.
The NASDAQ fell 15.51 points at 15,766.22.
Biogen surged roughly 9.5% and led the S&P 500 after a report in South Korean media that the biotechnology company is in talks to be acquired by Samsung. The deal would reportedly be worth more than $40 billion. Biogen declined to comment on the report.
Walgreens, Nike and Home Depot were the top gainers on the Dow, each rising more than 1%.
On the downside, travel-related stocks struggled. American Airlines pulled back 2.6% and United Airlines fell 1.9%. Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line both closed lower. Boeing led decliners on the Dow with a 1.2% pullback.
Investors are hoping to end the year on a high note with the S&P 500 returning more than 27% this year and the Dow up more than 19%.
The “Santa Claus rally” period encompasses the last five trading days of December and the first two of January. This is a historically strong period for the market, with the S&P 500 averaging a return of 1.7% since 1928.
Investors continue to monitor developments with the omicron COVID strain.
The U.S. has confirmed more than 4.1 million COVID cases this month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s well above November’s tally of 2.54 million. The country’s seven-day average of cases is also at 231,888 cases, more than triple the mean from Nov. 27.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week shortened its isolation recommendation for people who test positive from 10 days to five if they don’t have symptoms. Research from South Africa also suggests that omicron infections can boost immunity against the delta variant.
Prices for 10-year Treasurys braked hard, raising yields to 1.56% from Tuesday’s 1.48%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices gained 51 cents to $76.49 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices descended $5.40 to $1,805.50 U.S. an ounce.