Stock Market Closes at Record Highs as Holiday Shopping Season Gets Underway

Major benchmark indices ended the day at record highs as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

On a shorter-than-usual trading day, the S&P 500 climbed 0.24%, or 8.70 points, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.92%, or 111.44 points — driven by improvements in the shares of technology and healthcare companies. The stock market closed at 1 p.m. ET on Black Friday and was shuttered on Thursday for Thanksgiving.

It marked the latest sign of optimism on Wall Street: On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high of 30,000 points — largely due to promising COVID-19 vaccine news and reports that President-elect Joe Biden’s transition into the White House is afoot.

Just this week, United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford joined the race of highly praised vaccine candidates that showed at least 90% efficacy in preventing the novel coronavirus without serious side effects. Plus, a federal agency early this week ascertained Biden as the winner of the presidential election — more than two weeks after he was widely declared the new president of the United States.

On Friday, the Dow also showed gains, edging up 0.13%, or 37.90 points, to log its third-highest close in history. Some investors have expressed confidence that an economic rebound could be seen as soon as early next year.

What’s more, the stock performance notably comes as the Black Friday holiday kicks off. Some retailers have opted to open their doors later than usual or staggered their deals over the course of days, while others have turned to digital channels starting early this month to offer discounts that are ordinarily reserved for brick-and-mortar shopping.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales were already rebounding strongly and could continue to be boosted by positive news of potential vaccines. In an annual forecast, the group predicted a jump of 3.6% and 5.3% to $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion in holiday sales during the months of November and December. The numbers — which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants — compare with a 4% hike to $729.1 billion last year and an average holiday sales gain of 3.5% over the past five years.

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