U.S. Stocks Seeing Further Upside Amid Easing Omicron Concerns

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After moving sharply higher over the two previous sessions, stocks are seeing further upside in morning trading on Thursday. With the upward move over the past three days, the major averages have more than offset the pullback seen over the three preceding sessions.

Currently, the major averages are hovering firmly in positive territory. The Dow is up 208.39 points or 0.6 percent at 35,962.28, the Nasdaq is up 80.76 points or 0.5 percent at 15,602.66 and the S&P 500 is up 27.75 points or 0.6 percent at 4,724.31.

The S&P 500 has soared by 3.4 percent over the past three days and is currently on pace to end the session at a new record closing high.

Easing concerns about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are contributing to the continued strength on Wall Street, as separate studies have indicated the new strain poses a lower risk of severe disease and hospitalization than the Delta variant.

However, experts such as the World Health Organization have cautioned that it is too early to draw conclusions on the new variant's severity.

Traders are also reacting to a slew of U.S. economic data, including reports on weekly jobless claims, durable goods orders and personal income and spending.

The Labor Department released a report before the start of trading showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits came in flat in the week ended December 18th.

The report said initial jobless claims were unchanged from the previous week's revised level of 205,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 205,000 from the 206,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report released by the Commerce Department showed new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods spiked much more than expected in the month of November.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders surged up by 2.5 percent in November following a revised 0.1 percent uptick in October.

Economists expected durable goods orders to jump by 1.6 percent compared to the 0.4 percent drop that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding a sharp increase in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders climbed by 0.8 percent in November after rising by 0.3 percent in October. Ex-transportation orders were expected to increase by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department also released a report showing a continued acceleration in the pace of core consumer price growth.

A reading on inflation said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve showed the annual rate of core consumer price growth accelerated to 4.7 percent in November from 4.2 percent in October.

The annual rate of core consumer price growth exceeded the 4.5 percent expected by economists, reaching the highest level since 1989.

The data was included as part of a report showing personal income and spending both increased in line with economist estimates in November.

Another Commerce Department report showed new home sales skyrocketed in the month of November, although the sharp increase came from a substantially downwardly revised level in October.

Tobacco stocks have moved sharply higher in morning trading, driving the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index up by 2 percent.

Significant strength has also emerged among networking stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Networking Index. The index has reached a new record intraday high.

Transportation, computer hardware and semiconductor stocks are also seeing notable strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has jumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved lower following the slew of U.S. economic data. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.9 basis points at 1.496 percent.

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