US Stocks Finish Higher in Holiday-Shortened Session but Face Headwinds as COVID Aid Bill Remains in Flux

Major U.S. stock indices ended higher at the end of a curtailed session on Thursday as investors walked into the long Christmas weekend hoping a Brexit deal and ongoing vaccine rollout will result in better days. During the week with shortened holidays, the S&P 500 fell, the Dow made a nominal gain and the NASDAQ advanced.
On the cash market, the benchmark index S&P 500 was trading at 3703.06 on Thursday, up 13.05 or + 0.39%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 30,199.87, up 70.04 or + 0.25%, and the tech-driven NASDAQ Composite closed at 12,804.73, up 33.62 or + 0.30%.
Stocks with short-term headwinds
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While some investors are still betting on a Santa Claus rally in the final days of December, some see a bleak outlook due to the resurgent pandemic and the upcoming runoff elections in Georgia that will rule power in the Senate.
Investors also watched the situation in Washington, where the US House of Representatives blocked President Donald Trump's attempt to change a $ 2.3 trillion package on coronavirus relief and government spending after Trump switched to $ 2,000 direct payments of Americans.
According to Reuters, the move cast doubts as to whether the package passed by Congress on Monday would be incorporated into the law and threatened a partial government shutdown.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats would vote Monday on a standalone bill that would allow Americans to make direct payments of $ 2,000 per person.
Mixed coronavirus news
At the end of trading on December 11th, investors were bullish that the introduction of the vaccines would help steer the economy toward a faster recovery. That thought stalled last Monday, however, as investors aggressively dumped assets following reports of more aggressive assets across the UK. That story won't go away anytime soon if officials warn that the new variant may already be available in the US.
By the end of the week, about 1 million Americans had been vaccinated against COVID-19, well below the estimated 20 million by the end of the year. The big fear is that the virus will spread faster than humans can be vaccinated.
Sector and equity development
Ten of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 saw gains, led by real estate. Energy was the only loser despite a surge in crude oil prices.
Alibaba Group's shares fell 13.3% after it was revealed that China opened an investigation into the company as part of its antitrust proceedings.
American Airlines Group Inc announced that it would press ahead with plans to recall workers on leave, even as the upcoming payroll protection, which is part of the stimulus package, has been questioned. Their stocks fell 1.4%.
Moderna Inc expects its coronavirus vaccine to be effective against a new variant of the disease discovered in the UK. Even so, its stock closed 5.3%.
Altimmune Inc was down 9.3% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration clinically deferred the company's application to begin human testing of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, AdCOVID.
The internals
Advancing issues outperformed declining issues on the NYSE by a ratio of 1.53 to 1; on NASDAQ a ratio of 1.08 to 1 favored declines.
The S&P 500 posted 7 new 52-week highs and no new lows. The NASDAQ Composite made 138 new highs and 5 new lows.
The volume on the US stock exchanges was 6.14 billion shares, compared with the average of 11.30 billion in the last 20 trading days.
In our economic calendar you will find all economic events of today.
This article was originally published on FX Empire
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