S&P 500 scores record high on retail sales cheer

The S&P 500 index (.SPX) hit a record high on Monday, as strong U.S. retail sales underscored economic strength and eased worries from Omicron-driven flight cancellations that hit travel stocks.

U.S. holiday season retail sales rose 8.5% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, powered by an ecommerce boom, according to a Mastercard Inc report.

The S&P 500 retailing index (.SPXRT)gained0.18%.

Travel-related stocks, typically sensitive to coronavirus news, declined as U.S. airlines canceled about 800 more flights on Monday after nixing thousands during the Christmas weekend, as Omicron cases soared. read more

The S&P 1500 airlines index (.SPCOMAIR) shed 0.81%. Cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH.N), Royal Caribbean (RCL.N) and Carnival Corp (CCL.N) fell 1.5%-3.1%, leading declines on the benchmark S&P 500.

“The market is in this interesting place where we have a strong consumer, with spending up 8% year over year. Personal consumption makes up 70% of our GDP, and that remains flush,” said Sylvia Jablonski Kampaktsis, chief investment officer and co-founder at Defiance ETFs in New York.

“Omicron reminds us that we still exist in this corona ecosystem. And it’ll probably be one of many things that we will continue talking about with this virus but the doomsday COVID scenario of 2020 feels like it’s far behind us.”

Monday’s climb marks a fourth straight session of gains for Wall Street’s main stock indexes after encouraging news last week related to the Omicron variant eased worries about the strain’s economic impact.

All 11 main S&P 500 sector indexes advanced, with tech (.SPLRCT) and energy (.SPNY) leading percentage gains.

By 2:17 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 276.24 points, or 0.77%, to 36,226.8; the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 55.56 points, or 1.18%, at 4,781.35; and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 196.73 points, or 1.26%, at 15,850.10.

The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC)got a boost from megacap companies, including Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O), and Meta Platform (FB.O), which rose between 0.9% and 3.3%.

Main U.S. stock indexes are on track for a third straight yearly gain, with the benchmark S&P 500 (.SPX) set for its best three-year performance since 1999. The Dow is eyeing a 18.37% annual jump, while the Nasdaq is looking at a 23% climb.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 2.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 47 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 80 new highs and 116 new lows.