Stock market news live updates: December 28, 2021

U.S. stocks were mixed on Tuesday as traders weighed rising COVID-19 cases.

The S&P 500 changed course in midday trading after hitting an intraday high earlier in the session. The Dow was up while the Nasdaq faltered, dragged down by continued selling in tech stocks. 

Global COVID-19 cases hit a daily record on Monday, with more than 1.44 million worldwide infections reported, topping the prior record, according to Bloomberg. Infections from the highly-transmissible Omicron variant — found to infect 70 times faster than previous strains — comprised much of the newly tracked cases, though studies indicate illness caused by the strain is less likely to be severe or lead to hospitalizations. 

The CDC also eased its guidance for quarantining after exposure to the virus, halving its recommendation to isolate upon a positive test from 10 to five days.

December was a volatile month for investors who weighed the strain’s impact on the economy, but recent developments that indicate Omicron may cause milder disease helped markets shake off earlier concerns.

For the second consecutive day of trading, the S&P 500 soared past its previous peak on Tuesday, marking the benchmark’s 69th record close of the year along with broader market advances in the final stretch of 2021.

The moves suggest that a Santa Claus Rally — one in which stocks climb higher in the final five trading sessions of a year, plus the first two trading days of the new year — is so far underway. Over the past 92 years, the S&P 500 gained 77% of the time during the year-end rally period, according to data from Sundial Capital Research. The average gain in this seven-day trading period tallied 2.66%.

“Beyond vaccines, treatment options are becoming more available,” Rik Mehta, an FDA official and Georgetown University health law professor, told Yahoo Finance Live. “That will keep people that are vaccinated and unvaccinated out of the hospitals and from developing severe infection. That’s going to be a game changer for this.”

Meanwhile, travel stocks were a dark spot in the earlier session’s rally. Shares of U.S. airline companies took a hit following news of more than 2,800 canceled flights over the Christmas weekend and into Monday. Disruptions and delays were the result of staffing shortages caused by an uptick of COVID-19 cases among crews and personnel.

American Airlines (AAL) closed down 0.49% to $18.17 per share, United Airlines (UAL) traded 0.65% lower at $44.58 per share, and Delta Air Lines (DAL) slipped 0.76% to $39.00 per share.

“If the stocks are down, now is the time to buy,” DLB Financial Services CEO Debbie Boyd told Yahoo Finance Live as she discussed airline companies. “Think of those stocks being down as on sale.”

The rest of the week is expected to be mostly quiet for investors, with trading volumes low and a light calendar of economic data and earnings releases.

“We’re going to have a very strong January,” Navellier & Associates founder and CIO Louis Navellier told Yahoo Finance Live. “If we can rally on light volume, we’re going to get an explosion to the upside when the volume increases in January.”

The market will head into 2022 with several key considerations to weigh but with its biggest focus on the course of the pandemic and rising inflationary pressures, as well as on measures the Federal Reserve could take in response.

“Inflation and Omicron are the two most important catalysts for the stock market right now,” APAC CEO at Qraft Technologies Francis Oh told Yahoo Finance. “I think that those catalysts are priced in through the market volatility… still I think the market will cautiously move off.”

1:20 p.m. ET: Bitcoin extends declines from all-time high

Bitcoin’s (BTC-USD) December losses deepened, with the digital asset falling as much as 6.5% in the early afternoon to $47,760.

The token fell below its closely-watched price level of $50,000, extending the slide from its record high into a fifth week, according to Bloomberg data. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index fell as much as 4.9% to its lowest since early October, while other digital currencies also slumped.

1:02 p.m. ET: S&P 500 turns red after hitting intraday record

Here were the main moves in markets as of 1:02 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -3.73 (-0.08%) to 4,787.46

  • Dow (^DJI): +87.85 (+0.24%) to 36,390.23

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -74.90 (-0.47%) to 15,796.36

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.45 (+0.60%) to $76.02 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$2.70 (+0.15%) to $1,811.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.6 bps to yield 1.4650%

12:30 p.m. ET: Biden eyes pick for top job at Fed

U.S. President Joe Biden is considering Sarah Bloom Raskin to serve as vice chairwoman of supervision at the Federal Reserve, according to a Wall Street Journal Report.

Raskin, a former governor of the central bank and ex-Treasury Department official, is being considered as part of a lineup of three nominees for Federal Reserve board seats.

Rumored names for the openings also include Michigan State economist Lisa Cook, AFL-CIO chief economist Bill Spriggs, Morgan Stanley global chief economist Seth Carpenter, and economist and former Fed vice chair Roger Ferguson, Yahoo Finance reported earlier.

12:18 p.m. ET: Nasdaq edges lower while Dow, S&P build on gains

Here were the main moves in markets as during midday trading ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +2.33 (+0.05%) to 4,793.52

  • Dow (^DJI): +136.27 (+0.38%) to 36,438.65

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -46.87 (-0.30%) to 15,824.39

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.49 (+0.65%) to $76.06 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$2.70 (+0.15%) to $1,811.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.6 bps to yield 1.4650%

9:30 a.m. ET: Markets open higher following rally

Here were the main moves in markets at open ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +3.81 (+0.08%) to 4,795.00

  • Dow (^DJI): +25.90 (+0.07%) to 36,328.28

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +12.63 (+0.08%) to 15,883.89

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.77 (+1.02%) to $76.34 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$4.60 (+0.25%) to $1,813.40 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.9 bps to yield 1.4620%

9:00 a.m. ET: Home price growth continues to slow

U.S. home price appreciation has eased slightly, according to a fresh read on the Standard & Poor’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index.

The agency reported Tuesday morning that the index posted a 19.1% annual gain in October, down from 19.7% from September. The 20-City Composite posted a 18.4% annual gain, down from 19.1% a month earlier. Results came close to Bloomberg consensus estimates of an 18.5% annual gain.

Still, home prices continue to appreciate at double-digit rates — two-to three-times faster than a year ago — across all metropolitan areas, CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp said in a statement prior to the results.

“Unfortunately, the rate of home price growth will be limiting for many young buyers who have yet to accumulate sufficient equity gains, and an expected increase in mortgage rates next year will present further challenges,” she said. “Together, these two factors will keep a lid on continued home price acceleration.”

7:00 a.m. ET: Contracts on the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq tick up

Here’s how markets were trading ahead of open ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +9.50 points (+0.20%), to 4,791.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +70.00 points (+0.19%), to 36,248.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +70.75 points (+0.43%) to 16,630

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.09 (1.44%) to $76.66 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$10.30 (+0.57%) to $1,819.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.00bps to yield 0.00%

6:00 p.m. Monday ET: Futures unchanged following rally

Here’s how U.S. stock futures fared heading into the overnight session ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -0.75 points (-0.02%), to 4,781.50

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -7 points (-0.02%), to 36,171

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +9 points (+0.05%) to 16,569

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.42 (0.56%) to $75.99 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$3.90 (+0.22%) to $1,812.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.03bps to yield 0.02%

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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