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Stocks finish higher in extending record-breaking Santa rally

U.S. stocks climbed on Monday, with the Dow industrials and S&P 500 again closing at records, as Apple and Facebook led a rally in the technology sector and after data showed consumer sentiment at a five-month high and spending up in November.

"The combination of the Federal Reserve's 'taper-lite,' a two-year budget deal, and better-than-expected U.S. economic data could support the seasonal pattern of abnormally strong market returns during the holidays," noted Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group.


Facebook jumped as the social-networking site's first day of trading as one of the S&P 500 companies. Shares of Apple gained after it reached a deal to sell its iPhones through China Mobile, the biggest phone company on the globe. Darden Restaurants rose after Starboard Value disclosed a stake in the restaurant-chain operator, with the activist investor saying it push for change at the company.

"China Mobile has 750 million customers and represents an ideal platform for the American technology provider to enter the region's markets," Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, wrote in emailed research.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 73.47 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,294.61, with Cisco Systems pacing gains that included 22 of its 30 components.

Up 28 percent for the year, the S&P 500 advanced 9.67 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,827.99, with technology and telecommunications the best performing of its 10 sectors and consumer staples and utilities the laggards.

"The popular averages continue their usual Christmas rally with only one week to go in what has been the best year for stocks since the go-go '90s," said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners.

Hitting a 13-year high, the Nasdaq gained 44.16 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,148.90.

For every share falling, more than two gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 611 million shares traded. Composite volume exceeded 2.8 billion.

The Commerce Department on Monday reported U.S. consumer spending tallied its biggest increase in five months in November, rising 0.5 percent after advancing by a revised 0.4 percent in October.

Equities held their gains after the final reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index on consumer sentiment came in at 82.5, unchanged from November.

"It's great to see an improvement and a hoped for translation into consumer spending but so far holiday retail spending is expected to be just slightly above 2012 at 3.9 percent growth versus 3.5 percent," emailed Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, citing the National Retail Federation's forecast.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures for February delivery lost 41 cents to $98.91 a barrel, and gold futures for February delivery declined $6.70 to settle at $1,197.00 an ounce, putting it on course for its biggest yearly loss in 32 years.

The dollarlost ground against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 4 basis points to 2.93 percent.

On Friday, equities climbed, lifting the Dow and S&P 500 to record closes, after economic reports had the U.S. economy growing faster-than-projected in the third quarter, bolstering optimism about the economic outlook.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:

Tuesday: Durable goods for October. FHFA home prices for October. New home sales for November.

Wednesday: Government offices and markets closed for Christmas Day holiday.

Thursday: Initial jobless claims.

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