U.S. stocks inched higher Thursday morning, with markets expected to face thin holiday trading volumes in the first session after Christmas as a number of global markets remained closed.
Check out: Here are the markets closed for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year holidays
How are benchmarks performing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.23% was about 51 points, 0.2%, higher, trading near 28,539, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.35% was up 9 points, 0.3%, to touch 3,233. The Nasdaq COMP, +0.49% jumped 36 points, 0.4%, setting a fresh intraday record near 8.989.
Most major markets were closed on Wednesday for Christmas.
On Tuesday, the Dow retreated 36 points, or 0.1%, to end at around 28,515.45. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.35% shed 1 point to finish around 3,223.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 7 points, or 0.1%, to end at 8,952.88.
What’s driving the market?
Market participants are focused on the prospects of a completing a phase-one U.S.-China trade deal, with only a few trading sessions remaining in 2019. Over the past few days, markets have pegged optimism to comments from President Donald Trump and Chinese officials who have signaled that such an agreement is in the works.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said officials from Beijing and Washington were in “close communication about detailed arrangements for the deal’s signing and other follow-up work.”
Those comments follow remarks from President Trump, who on Christmas Eve said that the “deal is done, it’s just being translated right now.” Trump also said that he and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, would hold a signing ceremony for the partial trade resolution in January. “We’ll be having a quicker signing because we want to get it done.”
Meanwhile, some investors also drew optimism headed into Thursday trade from a report from Mastercard indicating that total U.S. retail sales for Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve rose 3.4% from a year earlier. Online shopping registered a record 14.6% of total sales, according to Mastercard Spending Pulse.
“Good news on the trade front as Trump said the trade deal will be signed at the White House coupled with 2019 holiday retail sales rising 3.4% better than last year, will likely keep the Bulls Fully in charge,” wrote Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
The number of people filing for unemployment benefits slid for a second straight week, the Labor Department said. Those claims had spiked in early December, but many economists believed it was because of the late Thanksgiving holiday.
A report on the Fed’s balance sheet and money supply is due at 4:30 p.m. ET.
What stocks are in focus?
Shares of two pharmaceutical companies lost more than half their value: Spring Bank SBPH, -57.06% tumbled after the company halted a hepatitis B trial and Spectrum Pharma SPPI, -56.11% also fell.
Interim holiday sales rose 1% to 3% compared to last year, luxury retailer Tiffany TIF, -0.01% said Thursday. The company said it was “happy to see sales growth in the Americas.”
Tesla Inc. TSLA, +1.61% shares ticked up to fresh highs after an analyst upgrade. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives raised his price target for the stock by $100, to a level that’s about $50 lower than current trading activity.
Shares of Boeing BA, -0.49% slipped Thursday. All eyes are on the Dow component, which on Monday replaced its CEO in an effort to right itself after months of missteps.
See: Wall Street has slammed the brakes on one of 2019’s hottest stock-market funds
How are other markets trading?
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.56% was flat at 1.90%.
Oil prices moved higher. West Texas Intermediate Crude CL00, +0.74% rose 49 cents or 0.8% to $61.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold prices jumped, with the price of an ounce of gold GCG20, +0.80% rising $12.00, or 0.8%.
The U.S. dollar DXY, -0.07% edged lower relative to a basket of its rivals, with the ICE Dollar index, a measure of the buck against six rival currencies, down fractionally.
In Asia overnight, stocks were higher. The China CSI 000300, +0.88% closed up 35 points or 0.%, Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.60% rose 0.6% or 142 points, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -0.15% was closed.
European stock markets were closed.
See: Here’s a lucky batch of 13 stocks that Jefferies thinks are ‘value BUT growing’ for 2020