Wall Street ends at record in second straight weekly gain

Wall St. Hits Records in Post-Holiday Session
Wall St. Hits Records in Post-Holiday Session

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended higher on Friday, with both the Dow and S&P 500 closing at records in a broad rally, though trading was light with many market participants still out for the Christmas holiday.

Major indexes closed out their second straight weekly gain, continuing an advance that has lifted the S&P 5.9 percent in seven sessions. The benchmark index hit its 52nd record close of the year on Friday, the most since 1995 and the fourth-best annual record ever, while the Dow rose for a seventh straight day, its longest streak since March 2013.

"The overall trend remains higher, but we're reaching a point where we're overbought. Six percent since last Tuesday is such a strong move in such a short period of time, even if bulls have the upper hand in the longer term," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

Recent gains have come on strong economic data, including a bullish read on economic growth earlier this week, as well as accommodative measures from central banks.

The day's gains were broad, with eight of the S&P 500's 10 primary sectors ending up on the day and no sector ending more than 0.1 percent lower. The utility sector was the day's strongest, up 1.2 percent, while healthcare rose 0.8 percent.

Healthcare stocks were boosted by biotechs, which jumped 2.3 percent. While the Nasdaq biotech index was one of the day's strongest sectors, it fell 3.2 percent in a week marked by heavy volatility. Celgene Corp rose 3.4 percent to $113.35 as the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer, followed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, up 3.3 percent to $413.48.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.5 points, or 0.13 percent, to 18,053.71, the S&P 500 gained 6.89 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,088.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 33.39 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,806.86.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.4 percent, the S&P rose 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.9 percent. It was the ninth positive week in the past ten for the Dow and S&P.

The S&P Retail index rose 0.5 percent in the first trading session after Christmas. Among notable names, Best Buy Co rose 0.6 percent to $39.14 while Macy's Inc dipped 0.3 percent to $64.05. Amazon.com Inc rose 2 percent to $309.18.

"Things are looking positive since the shopping season coincided with a big drop in crude oil, which means lower gas prices," Sarhan said. "That translates to more disposable income, which could mean stronger retail sales."

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,032 to 1,011, for a 2.01-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,792 issues rose and 934 fell for a 1.92-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 70 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 133 new highs and 28 new lows.

About 3.06 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, compared with the month-to-date average of 7.39 billion.

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