By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica
Retail stocks higher as first reads on the holiday shopping season indicate encouraging results
U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday as the market's recent upward bias continued, although moves were modest following the Christmas holiday as many market participants were still out of the office or waiting for the new year to make big portfolio changes.
The day's gains were broad but slight, with all but three of the S&P 500's 11 primary sectors higher on the day. Retail stocks were in focus as investors looked to the first reads on the strength of the holiday shopping season emerge.
The final trading week of the year is typically a quiet one, with light trading and few planned news events--such as central bank announcements or corporate earnings--to dictate market direction. However, the low volume means that stocks may be vulnerable to outsize moves, especially with major indexes hovering near record levels.
Some investors may be looking to take profits given the sharp rally that occurred following the U.S. presidential election. The Dow is up almost 9% since the election, bringing its year-to-date gain to 14.6%. The blue-chip average has come within 0.1% of the psychologically significant level of 20,000, but that milestone has proved elusive. The Dow is coming off its seventh straight weekly gain.
"We'll probably drift higher to finish the year, because that's typical from a historic basis," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Phoenix Financial Services. "We're getting ready for 2017, waiting to see if there will be any kind of unwind in the 'Trump rally' because a lot of anticipation has been built into stock prices and it may be too much."
Read: Dow's 20,000 dalliance is a reminder that it's the best active fund ever fashioned (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-dow-is-arguably-the-best-active-fund-ever-engineered-2016-12-22)
The S&P 500 is up about 6% since the election, and it is up 11% for the year, while the Nasdaq Composite has gained 9.5%, driven by a postelection rise of more than 5%. Small-cap stocks have been particular outperformers; the Russell 2000 is up 20.7% in 2016, with nearly 15% of that rise occurring since the election.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%, or 24 points, to 19,958, while the S&P 500 advanced 7 points, or 0.3%, to 2,271 and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 36 points to 5,498, a gain of 0.7%.
The Nasdaq was boosted by a rise in technology shares; the sector rose 0.7% on the day, the best performer among S&P 500 industries.
Read: Growing signs that the Dow might not make it to 20,000 by the end of 2016 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-20000-isnt-a-foregone-conclusion-in-2016so-dont-break-out-the-bubbly-2016-12-22)
In the latest economic data, the S&P Case-Shiller index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/rise-in-us-home-prices-shows-no-sign-of-abating-2016-12-27) of home prices climbed 0.6% in October and was up 5.1% in the past year, unchanged from the prior month. Consumer confidence in December jumped to 113.7 from a revised 109.4 in November, hitting its highest level since 2001 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/consumer-confidence-hits-highest-level-since-2001-2016-12-27).
Opinion: What this week's stock market will tell you about 2017 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-this-weeks-stock-market-will-tell-you-about-2017-2016-12-26)
(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-this-weeks-stock-market-will-tell-you-about-2017-2016-12-26)Among stocks to watch for Tuesday, retailers Amazon.com Inc.(AMZN) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.(WMT) were in focus amid postholiday Christmas shopping (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/retail-etfs-rise-as-early-indications-point-to-strong-holiday-shopping-season-2016-12-27) as the first. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF(XRT) rose 0.8% on Tuesday, while the Amplify Online Retail ETF(IBUY)--which only holds companies that get a majority of their sales from online purchases--rose 0.9%.
Amazon shares rose 1.7% while Wal-Mart edged 0.1% higher.
Across other markets, Asian stocks had a largely lackluster session (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-stocks-trade-mixed-toshiba-takes-a-hit-over-loss-report-2016-12-27), while European equities traded mostly flat (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-struggle-for-direction-in-first-day-of-post-christmas-trade-2016-12-27). London markets remain closed for an extended Christmas break.
Opinion:New Year's Resolutions: What money pros vow to do better in 2017 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-years-resolutions-what-money-pros-vow-to-do-better-in-2017-2016-12-26)
Crude prices posted moderate gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-steady-as-investors-wait-for-production-cuts-to-roll-out-2016-12-27), while gold and silver prices moved higher. The dollar inched up against major rivals (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-inches-up-as-market-keeps-a-close-eye-on-trumps-economic-plans-2016-12-27).
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 27, 2016 11:32 ET (16:32 GMT)
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