Market Snapshot: Dow poised to extend climb as year-end holiday rally takes stocks to record heights

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U.S. stock indexes on Friday were on track to add to record gains as investors attempt to close out a holiday-shortened week on a powerful up trend, a day after a report on strong retail sales helped the Nasdaq to finish above 9,000 for the first time.

Continued optimism on Sino-American trade developments and a expectations of an accommodative Federal Reserve also have helped to support market optimism in the final days of 2019.

How are benchmarks performing?

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMH20, +0.30% gained 89 points, or 0.3%, to 28,708, those for the S&P 500 index ESH20, +0.23% advanced 8.10 points, or 0.3%, at 3,252,50, while Nasdaq-100 futures NQH20, +0.36% rose 30.75 points, or 0.4%, to 8,835.

On Thursday, the Dow DJIA, +0.37% rose 105.94 points or 0.37% to 28,621.39, notching its ninth gain of the past 11 trading days to post a year-to-date rise of 22.69%.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.51%  advanced 16.53 points, or 0.51%, to 3,239.91 for a year-to-date return of 29.24%. The Nasdaq COMP, +0.78% rose 69.51 points, or 0.78%, to a record at 9,022.39 after posting a record close for a 10th straight day, the longest such win streak since July 1997. Year-to-date the Nasdaq has risen 35.98%

For the week, the Dow and S&P 500 are both on pace for a gain of 0.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite has gained 1.1% so far this week, as of Thursday’s close.

What’s driving the market?

Optimism surrounding U.S. markets gathered steam in the aftermath of strong holiday sales, with a report on industrial production contributed to some of the year-end bullish sentiment that was gripping Wall Street.

“The indices are set to close this shorten holiday week with record highs as the year end rally continues to broaden out,” wrote Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, in a Friday research note.

Reuters reported that profits at China’s industrial firms grew at the fastest pace in eight months in November. Industrial profits in November rose 5.4% from a year earlier to 593.9 billion yuan ($84.93 billion), compared with a 9.9% drop in October. That halted three months of declines, Reuters reported, citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Investors saw the Chinese data as a sign that a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, amid a trade policy conflict with the U.S., may not produce as severe a downturn as feared.

The economic report comes after Chinese Commerce Ministry said China is in close touch with the U.S. on signing the initial trade pact and President Donald Trump said Tuesday the deal is “getting done,” adding there will be a signing ceremony with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

To be sure, challenges in striking a partial deal include, Beijing reconciling the U.S.’s targeted demands for agricultural purchases of some $200 billion, while not disrupting its current trade relationships in the Asian region and in Europe.

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Tesla Inc. TSLA, +1.34% said it is set to begin deliveries of China-made Model 3 cars on Dec. 30, according to reports. Shares of the electric-car maker were up 1.3% in premarket trade and on track for a fresh all-time high.

How are other markets trading?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.04% was down 1.7 basis points at 1.89%. Bond prices rise as yields fall.

West Texas Intermediate crude CL00, +0.15%  headed 0.2% to $61.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices GCG20, +0.11%  were relatively flat after at $1,514.80 an ounce on Comex after closing at its highest level since Oct. 31 for a most-active contract on Thursday, marking a third session of gains in a row.

The U.S. dollar was down 0.4% at 97.119, as measured by the ICE Dollar index DXY, -0.40%, a gauge of the buck against six rival currencies.

In Asia overnight, stocks were mixed. The China CSI 000300, -0.10%  closed off 0.1%, Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.36%  fell 0.4%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +1.30% rallied 1.3%.

Meanwhile, the pan-European benchmark, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index SXXP, +0.41%  was headed 0.4% higher on Friday, after being closed the past two sessions for the holidays.

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