U.S. stocks climbed on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 in uncharted terrain and the Dow also furthering its record climb, a day after its first trip above 18,000.
There is “follow through from yesterday’s rally, not many people around and no impetus for a sell off,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
“Claims dropped down to a level below 300,000 that is indicative of firming labor conditions,” added Luschini of data released Wednesday that showed fewer Americans than forecast filed for unemployment benefits last week.
The Labor Department reported jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 280,000 last week, with the four-week moving average dropping to 290,250 last week from 298,750.
Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported more Americans applied for mortgages last week, with refinance activity also rising.
Achillion Pharmaceuticals rose after Tuesday’s 24 percent drop as biotechnology shares were hit by worries insurers and drug-benefit managers might try to restrict drug costs; Cal-Maine Foods fell after the egg producer reported quarterly earnings short of estimates.
The Dow and S&P 500 were at or near session as well as all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 58.07 points, or 0.3 percent, at 18,082.24, with Visa leading blue-chip gains that included 20 of 30 components.
The S&P 500 rose 5.12 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,087.29, with utilities leading sector gains and energy losses among its 10 major industry groups.
Rebounding from Tuesday’s decline, the Nasdaq gained 20.33 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,785.75.
Volume was light ahead of an early 1 p.m. Eastern close. Wall Street is closed for Thursday’s Christmas Day holiday.
For every three shares falling, nearly four gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 143 million shares traded as of 11:10 a.m. Eastern. Composite volume neared 693 million.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to determine mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 3 basis points to 2.2944 percent.
The U.S. dollar declined against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and dollar denominated commodities including oil and gold fell.
“One day its the Arabs are saying they expect demand to increase a little, and oil rallies, then the next day there’s a report that there’s likely to be more supply than demand, and the price falls. It’s a commodity, and there are not going to be significant production cuts unless somebody blinks,” said Luschini.
“While oil prices may get a bounce, they are likely to stay much lower than six months ago, which has contributed to better confidence among consumers, and bodes well for a better jobs market,” said Luschini of the trend of lower gasoline prices and its impact on the U.S. economy.