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Stocks End Wednesday Modestly Higher   12/08 16:08

   Major stock indexes weathered a bout of choppy trading on Wall Street 
Wednesday and closed higher for the third day in a row.

   (AP) -- Major stock indexes weathered a bout of choppy trading on Wall 
Street Wednesday and closed higher for the third day in a row.

   The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, with 62% of the stocks within the benchmark index 
closing higher. The muted trading followed a strong start to the week that 
included the index's biggest gain since March. With the latest gain, the S&P 
500 has now recovered all of its losses from its two-week skid heading into 
this week.

   The Dow Jones Industrial Average bounced back from an early drop to eke out 
a 0.1% gain, while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.6%.

   Markets had slipped the previous two weeks over several concerns, including 
rising inflation, the newest coronavirus variant and how both issues could 
impact economic growth. Stocks steadied this week following comments from Dr. 
Anthony Fauci, the White House's chief medical adviser, who on Monday said 
early indications suggested that the omicron variant may be less dangerous than 
delta.

   "The generally more confident tone is a function of omicron news," said Liz 
Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. "Regardless of 
what's happening, it's still amazing to see all the flip-flopping happening at 
the sector level."

   The choppiness in the market will likely persist through December, she said.

   The S&P 500 rose 14.46 points to 4,701.21, and is now up 25.2% for the year. 
The Dow gained 35.32 points to 35,754.75. The blue chip index swung between a 
loss of 116 and a gain of 121.

   The tech-heavy Nasdaq had also been down in the early going before bouncing 
back to gain 100.07 points and end at 15,786.99.

   Smaller company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 
rose 17.92 points, or 0.8%, to 2,271.71.

   A wide range of travel-related companies gained ground in a sign that 
investors are confident that the industry will continue its recovery despite 
the threat from the omicron variant of COVID-19.

   Norwegian Cruise Line jumped 8.2% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500, while 
rivals Carnival rose 5.5% and Royal Caribbean gained 5.2%. United Airlines rose 
4.2% and Las Vegas Sands added 4.4%.

   Technology companies accounted for a big slice of the S&P 500's gains, 
though Apple's 2.3% rise did a lot of the heavy lifting as its weighting gives 
it a large influence on the sector. Other big tech companies fell, including 
chipmaker Nvidia, which dropped 1.9% and Intel, which closed 1.6% lower.

   Communications and health care stocks made solid gains. Facebook parent Meta 
Platforms rose 2.4% and Twitter rose 2.8%. UnitedHealth Group rose 0.9%.

   Financial stocks were the biggest laggards. JPMorgan Chase fell 1.1% and 
Bank of America slid 1.2%.

   Energy futures rose. The price of U.S. crude oil gained 0.4%, though energy 
stocks were mixed.

   Bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.52% from 1.48% 
late Tuesday.

   Markets in Asia were mostly higher. Tokyo's Nikkei gained 1.4% as economists 
are forecasting a rebound for the world's third largest economy in the current 
quarter after coronavirus caseloads plummeted.

   Markets in Europe fell. Germany's Dax shed 0.8% as Germany's parliament 
elected Olaf Scholz as the country's ninth post-World War II chancellor, 
opening a new era for the European Union's largest economy after Angela 
Merkel's 16-year tenure.

   Investors could get more insight into how the economy is faring later this 
week and next week. On Friday, the Labor Department will give an update on how 
rising prices are impacting consumers with the release of its Consumer Price 
Index for November.

   The Federal Reserve is scheduled to hold a two-day meeting of policymakers 
next week that could offer an update on the central bank's plans to tackle 
inflation. The Fed has said it plans to speed up the pace at which it trims its 
bond purchases, which have helped keep interest rates low. That has raised 
concerns that the Fed will raise its benchmark interest rates next year sooner 
than expected.

 
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