The First Slice for Wednesday, December 29, 2021

(MarketWatch) — U.S. stock indexes closed mostly lower Tuesday, with the S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite snapping a four-day winning streak, as some investors looked toward 2022 with optimism, despite record COVID-19 cases resulting from the spread of the omicron variant.

  • The Dow rose +95.83 or +0.26%
  • The S&P 500 slipped -4.84 or -0.10%
  • The Nasdaq fell -89.54 or -0.56%

Investors are betting that the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus won’t capsize economic growth, even if expectations for another powerful run-up in stocks seems doubtful following outsize gains in 2021. 

The market is expecting omicron to be “pretty mild” despite being highly contagious, anticipating that the variant is unlikely to lead to “serious lockdowns” in the U.S., said Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, in a phone interview Tuesday. Meanwhile, holiday-shopping sales looked “pretty good,” giving the stock market some momentum in the final stretch of 2021.

On Monday, the market set off on its best so-called Santa Claus Rally, which tends to show up for U.S. stocks in the final week of December and first two trading sessions of January, in about two decades.

While the omicron variant spreads around the globe, wreaking havoc on holiday travel due to rising cases among airline staff, investors may have taken heart from news Monday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut its recommended COVID-19 isolation time to five days, from 10, if affected individuals are symptom-free.

Still, Apple said it would temporarily close 11 New York City stores as a precaution against rising cases. And major cities around the world, including New York City, are paring down New Year’s Eve celebrations as a way of combating the virus’s spread. Apple’s shares closed 0.6% lower Tuesday.

In a light week for U.S. economic data, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city price index posted an 18.4% year-over-year gain in October, down from 19.1% the previous month. That measure of U.S. home prices, released Tuesday, marked the third consecutive month showing annual appreciation occurred at a slower pace.

Meanwhile, China Evergrande Group the heavily indebted real-estate developer, said that construction work had resumed at more than 90% of its stalled residential projects. 

Wren sees no major headwinds for the U.S. stock market for the remainder of 2021.

Which companies were in focus? Shares of Carnival Corp. closed 0.2% lower as investors considered that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated many of the company’s cruise ships had reached “yellow” status as of Dec. 27, meaning reported cases of COVID-19 have met the threshold for CDC investigation.

Shares of Digital Turbine IncAPPS fell 1.7%, after the media and mobile communications company announced a multiyear partnership with Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL Google. 

Shares of Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals Ltd.KNSA dropped 2.9%, after the biopharmaceutical company said a Phase 3 trial of mavrilimumab for treatment of COVID-19-related acute respiratory syndrome (ARDS) failed to meet the primary efficacy endpoint. 

Mercury Systems Inc.MRCY said Tuesday that it has adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan, also known as a “poison pill,” as protection from a hostile takeover during a period in which the aerospace and defense technologies company believes its stock is undervalued. Its stock slipped about 0.3%.

  • Oil futures rose, with the U.S. benchmark CL00 for February delivery adding 0.5% to settle at $75.98 a barrel.
  • Gold futures GC00 for February delivery gained 0.1% to settle at $1,810.90 an ounce. 
  • Bitcoin BTCUSD was down to around $47,746, after on Monday testing a rise toward $52,000.

Full Loaf Hot Link[read more] Original Article By: Christine Idzelis

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