Stocks close higher; tech notches 3-day winning streak

  • Tech, which is the best-performing sector of the year, had been under pressure recently, but posted a three-day winning streak on Thursday.
  • Wall Street also looked to Washington for clues about tax reform and a possible government shutdown.

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as technology stocks regained some of the ground they lost in the past week.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 70.57 points to close at 24,211.48, after briefly rising more than 100 points. The S&P 500 advanced 0.3 percent to 2,636.98. Information technology was among the best-performing sectors in the S&P 500, advancing 0.6 percent.

Tech, which is the best-performing sector of the year, had been under pressure recently — falling 0.9 percent over the past week — but posted a three-day winning streak on Thursday.

The Nasdaq composite gained 0.5 percent to finish at 6,812.84, as shares of Facebook and Amazon rose.

NYSE Traders on the floor.
Andrew Renneisen | Getty Images
NYSE Traders on the floor.

Material stocks perked up in late-afternoon trading on news that President Donald Trump plans to unveil an infrastructure spending plan in 2018. Shares of Martin Marietta Materials, Vulcan Materials and Eagle Materials rose 3.5 percent, 3.1 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Wall Street also looked to Washington for clues about tax reform and a possible government shutdown.

Senate members passed a bill on Saturday that would change the U.S. tax code if it became law. Lawmakers in the Senate must now work with House members on a joint tax bill that must be passed before President Donald Trump can sign it. The House had passed another tax bill in November which differs from the Senate's plan on key items.

"The House tax plan looks like a plan to us; the Senate version looks more like an agglomeration of bits and pieces designed to either capture needed votes (which it did) and/or be bargaining chips in negotiating with the House," Jonathan Fenby of TS Lombard said in a note this week.

"As for reconciling the two plans, we think the House version generally wins out on the personal side and the Senate version predominates on the business side with one exception – no one-year delay on the corporate tax cut," Fenby said.

Wall Street has been eagerly waiting for changes to the tax code, lifting stocks to record highs as they expect most companies will likely pay less in corporate taxes.

Investors are also weighing the possibility of a government shutdown. If lawmakers fail to craft a deal on spending by the end of the week, the federal government could close until a deal is struck. President Donald Trump said Wednesday a shutdown "could happen."

But Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, said he isn't worried about a government shutdown adversely affecting the market. "After the last three shutdowns, the market has actually gone up," he said.

In corporate news, Sage Therapeutics skyrocketed 70 percent after announcing positive results from Phase 2 testing of its depression drug known as SAGE-217.

Shares of Shake Shack jumped nearly 8 percent after the fast-casual dining restaurant reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

In economic news, investors looked ahead to the release of the November jobs report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set to release the data on Friday at 8:30 a.m. New York time. Economists polled by Reuters expect a gain of 200,000 jobs last month.

"We expect moderate to strong jobs growth in this report," said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. He noted, however, the labor market is showing signs of slowing down. "But that's typical. With a 4 percent unemployment rate, there just aren't enough bodies to put into jobs."


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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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