Wall St takes breather on last day of 2021

US stocks slowed on the final day of trading for 2021, after a stunning recent rally put Wall Street's main indexes on pace to finish the year with handsome gains driven by massive stimulus, vaccine rollouts, and strong retail participation.

Ten of 11 major S&P sectors gained amid quiet trading, with energy -- the best performing sector of 2021 -- leading the charge higher.

The S&P 500 and Dow hit peaks this week, as optimism from early data suggesting the Omicron variant was less virulent than other strains outweighed worries from a record-high surge in US cases and warnings of disruptions ahead.

On New Year's Eve, thousands of flights within the United States and internationally were delayed and hundreds were canceled, partly due to rampant surge in COVID-19 infections.

"With no major market drivers and no important events scheduled, we do expect a quiet trading activity," Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD Group, wrote in a note.

"However, let's not forget that due to thin liquidity, a sudden market-related headline may be enough to cause overstretched reactions."

Aiding the broader upbeat sentiment was a string of upbeat data this week, including a report that showed no impact yet of the rampant jump in infections on the US labour market, although market action has been choppy in thin holiday trading.

In early trading on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 23.27 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 36,374.81, the S&P 500 was down 0.15 points at 4,778.58, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 2.99 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 15,738.57.

The benchmark S&P 500 is set to exit the year 27 per cent higher, with energy sector's 47.4 per cent jump outperforming all other sector indexes.

Real estate and technology sectors, up 44 per cent and 34 per cent respectively over the past year, were the next best performers.

The blue-chip Dow is set to rise 19 per cent, while the tech-laden Nasdaq is on pace to climb 22 per cent.

As investors prepare to ring in the New Year, fourth-quarter earnings, the pace of monetary policy tightening, and midterm elections in the US Congress will be key in determining the path forward for stock markets.

Among other individual companies, Xeris Biopharma Holdings Inc jumped 22.2 per cent after the company's drug Recorlev received an approval for treating adult patients with Cushing's syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder.

Tesla Inc is recalling more than 475,000 of its Model 3 and Model S electric cars to address rearview camera and trunk issues that increase the risk of crashing. It shares however, edged 0.2 per cent higher.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.09-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 10 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 27 new lows.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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