U.S. stock futures inched higher Wednesday, indicating a
sixth straight session of gains for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500. Dow
Jones Industrial Average futures rose 24 points, or 0.1%, to 18000. S&P 500
futures added two points, or 0.1%, to 2081 and Nasdaq-100 futures gained seven
points, or 0.2%, to 4285. Changes in stock futures don’t always accurately
predict moves in the stock market after the opening bell.
Futures remained slightly higher after the Labor Department
said jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 280,000 in the week ended Dec.
20. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected 290,000 new
claims. Trading will end at 1 p.m. Eastern Wednesday, and the U.S. stock market
will be closed Thursday for Christmas. Volume has been declining ahead of the
holiday, with about 5.7 billion shares trading Tuesday, the lowest since Nov.
The Dow pushed above 18000 for the first time Tuesday,
boosted by data showing the U.S. economy posted its strongest growth in
more than a decade. The Dow rose 0.4% to 18024.17, notching its 36th record in
2014. The S&P also hit a fresh record, its 51st this year, with a gain of
0.2% to 2082.17. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.3% to 4765.42.
The Federal Reserve’s assurance that it will be patient
in deciding when to raise interest rates has boosted the Dow by 955.30
points, or 5.6%, in the five trading days through Tuesday. That is the largest
five-day point gain since November 2008 and the biggest percentage gain since
European trading was light on Wednesday ahead of the
holiday. A decline in oil prices weighed on shares of energy companies. In
other markets, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1175.20 an ounce. The yield on the
10-year Treasury note rose to 2.276% from 2.257% on Tuesday.
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