12-28-17 10:21 AM EST | Email Article

By Sara Sjolin and Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch

Jobless claims are little changed for the week at 245,000

U.S. stock benchmarks rose modestly on Thursday, buoyed mostly by gains in technology and bank shares, in seasonally light trading volume in the penultimate trading day of 2017.

What are stock benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 40 points, or 0.2%, to 24,812, led by a rebound in shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL), which has been under pressure for most of the week, and a rise in International Business Machines Corp. (IBM). The S&P 500 index advanced 1 point, or less than 0.1%, to 2,683, with the technology sector rising 0.2% and financial shares rising 0.2%.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was trading flat at 6,941, retreating somewhat from early modest gains.

The small advance come after all three benchmarks closed slightly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/boeing-leads-dow-futures-higher-in-holiday-thinned-session-2017-12-27) in thin trade on Wednesday, with the Dow average ending 0.1% higher, the S&P 500 rising 0.1% and the Nasdaq advancing 3.09 points, or less than 0.1%.

What's driving the markets?

Last week, stocks rallied to records after the Republicans passed the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years as well as a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded into early 2018. That helped set the S&P on track for a 20% yearly gain, while the Dow and Nasdaq were looking at gains between 25% and 30%.

What are strategist saying?

Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management, said trade is being supported by expectations for further gains in 2018 and an improving economy, on the back of fiscal stimulus measures like corporate tax cuts.

Cote said Thursday's moves reflect "a slow down in the market," but said "as what usually happens in January, I expect big action not only in the markets but in the fundamentals of the economy which really ultimately drive the market."

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp.(CHK) climbed about 2.5%, despite a slight slide in crude-oil prices .

Apples shares are rebounding on Thursday, up 0.7%, as the iPhone maker attempts to trim a decline of nearly 2% so far this week, on the back of worries about sales of its iPhone X and reports and reports of lawsuits against the tech giant.

Tesla Inc.(TSLA) rose less than 0.2%, after losing 1.8% on Wednesday when KeyBanc analysts slashed their fourth-quarter estimates for Model 3 deliveries to about 5,000 from 15,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-shares-dip-after-keybanc-slashes-model-3-estimates-2017-12-27).

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-shares-dip-after-keybanc-slashes-model-3-estimates-2017-12-27)What's on deck in economic data?

The purchasing managers index for Chicago showed a rise of 67.6 in December from 63.9 in the previous month, compared with expectations for 62. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Initial U.S. jobless claims, a tool to measure layoffs, were unchanged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-stick-to-245000-in-week-before-christmas-2017-12-28)at 245,000 last week. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 239,000.

Meanwhile, the U.S. deficit in goods increased 2.3% in November to $69.7 billion.

What are other markets doing?

Bitcoin prices plunged (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-tumbles-almost-10-as-south-korea-moves-to-curb-crypto-trade-2017-12-28), with spot prices erasing more than $1,000 after South Korea announced tougher measures to crack down on cryptocurrencies trade.

The dollar dropped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-index-drops-to-multiweek-lows-after-us-bond-yields-tumble-2017-12-28) against most other major currencies, with the ICE index down 0.3% at 92.730. The broad-based dollar selloff came after U.S. Treasury yields tumbled on Wednesday.

Metals were mostly higher, with gold prices up 0.4% at $1,296.50 an ounce.

Asian stocks closed mostly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tech-stocks-lead-recovery-in-asian-markets-2017-12-27), while European markets wavered around the flat line.

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 28, 2017 10:21 ET (15:21 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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