Megacaps led major equity indexes higher in holiday-thinned trading with most institutional investors sidelined through year end. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.0 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.4 percent to set another record closing high, and the NASDAQ also rose 1.4 percent.
Megacaps including Apple, up 2.3 percent, Facebook, up 3.3 percent, Microsoft, up 2.3 percent, and Tesla, up 2.5 percent, extended their recent rise, evidently with a boost from year-end momentum and illiquid conditions. Tesla is up 20 percent in the last five trading days. Chipmakers rallied too, with Advanced Micro Devices up 5.6 percent and Nvidia up 4.4 percent.
Some stay-at-home names advanced Monday as investors reacted to frightening increases in Covid case counts in the US and globally. Procter & Gamble, maker of home packaged goods, rose 1.2 percent, and Home Depot gained1.8 percent to boost the Dow industrials.
On the downside, airlines and cruise lines suffered from fallout from the Covid surge, which forced cancellation of many flights and public events. Among companies in focus, GoDaddy rose 8.4 percent on reports that hedge fund Starboard Value had taken a large stake in the internet business.
These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil rose US$1.77 to US$78.70 while spot gold gained US$3.64 to US$1,812.47. The US dollar fell vs. most major currencies but rose vs. the yen. Yields on the US Treasury 30-year bond declined 3 basis points at 1.88 percent and the 10-year note declined 2 basis points to 1.48 percent.
Equities edged up in illiquid trading with a boost from health care stocks. The Europe-wide STOXX 600 gained 0.6 percent, the German DAX firmed 0.5 percent, the French CAC gained 0.8 percent, and UK markets were on holiday.
Health care got a lift from Roche, up 1.0 percent, after receiving U.S. emergency approval for its home Covid test, and from BioArctic, the biotech, up 7.5 percent, after U.S. fast track approval for its Alzheimer's treatment. Technology shares outperformed too, with Groupe Gorge up 6.6 percent on news it is bidding for iXBlue, a US defense technology business. On the downside, oil & gas lagged as crude oil prices retreated during the European hours.
Investors are cautious as they await government responses to rising Omicron case counts and their effects on business and consumers. Markets generally expect more restrictions for non-vaccinated people but not a return to wider lockdowns.
Equities were mixed with a negative bias as markets remained concerned over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Trading was limited as markets in Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand were on holiday.
Japanese equities lagged the region on virus worries, with the Nikkei 225 down 0.4 percent and the Topix down 0.5 percent. Investors are concerned that the fast-spreading Omicron virus will spur wider restrictions to prevent hospitals from being swamped by the number of cases.
China's CSI 300 index was flat and the Shanghai composite index eased 0.1 percent. On the negative side was a lockdown in the city of Xi'an. On the positive side: a renewed pledge from the People's Bank of China to provide more support for the economy.
South Korea's KOSPI declined 0.4 percent amid profit-taking after recent gains. Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.5 percent with a boost from tech stocks.
In economic news, Japanese retail sales posted a second straight year-on-year rise in November, with the pace of increase accelerating from October. Retail sales rose a preliminary 1.9 percent on the year last month after rising 0.9 percent in October and falling 0.5 percent in September, led by higher fuel prices and continued solid demand for food and beverages as well as medicine and cosmetics. The latest figure came in firmer than the median economist forecast for a 1.4 percent rise.
In Asia/Pacific, Japanese unemployment, Japanese industrial production, and Hong Kong merchandise trade figures are scheduled for release. In Europe, no major reports are scheduled. In North America, US Case-Shiller home prices, FHFA house prices, and Richmond Fed manufacturing reports are on tap.