US STOCKS-S&P 500 pauses at record high after four-day rally

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(Reuters) – The S&P 500 hit a record high on Tuesday as conviction in the U.S. economy helped investors shrug off concerns over Omicron-driven travel disruptions and store closures, following a four-day rally for U.S. stocks amid thin trading volumes.

FILE PHOTO: A Christmas tree is seen outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the last day of trading before Christmas in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 to five days from the previous guidance of 10 days.

The update follows approvals to new pills and more vaccines to fight COVID-19. It also helped investors look past thousands of flight cancellations and Apple Inc shutting its New York stores due to surging cases, and put U.S. stocks on pace for monthly gains.

“This policy change is sending the message that it is becoming more like the flu and less like the variants we saw early on when we had no treatments, no vaccines and it was much more deadly,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital in New York.

Among the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes, eight traded higher on Tuesday. Healthcare, materials as well as the Philadelphia chip index hit record highs.

At 11:18 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 149.83 points, or 0.41%, at 36,452.21 and the S&P 500 was up 3.23 points, or 0.07%, at 4,794.4239.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 44.49 points, or 0.28%, at 15,826.77 in choppy trading.

In company news, Boeing added 1.4% as Indonesia lifted a ban on the company’s 737 MAX, three years after the crash of one of its aircraft that led to the loss of all 189 people on board.

Markets are in one of the seasonally strong periods, also called the Santa Claus rally, with CFRA Research data showing the S&P 500 has on average risen 1.3% in the last five trading days of the year, and first two days of the new year since 1969.

“You cannot take much away from the action in the day and will have to really wait and see once we get into the new year how things are going to trade,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.19-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.49-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 71 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 94 new highs and 130 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Maju Samuel