Stocks Edge Higher as Wall Street Begins Last Trading Week of 2021

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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.


Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Stock futures pointed to a modestly higher open for Wall Street Monday as investors prepared for the last trading week of 2021 by assessing what threat the spread of the Omicron variant might have on the global economy.

Contracts linked to the


Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 58 points, or 0.2%,


S&P 500

futures were up 0.3% and


Nasdaq

futures were up 0.4%. Thin trading is expected on Wall Street this week.

Stocks finished Thursday with gains, with the S&P 500 rising 0.6% and closing at a new record of 4,725 points. All three major stock indexes finished the holiday-shortened week solidly higher. Markets were closed Friday for the Christmas holiday.

Asian stocks closed mixed Monday. The


Shanghai composite

slipped 0.1% and the


Nikkei 225

fell 0.4%, though the


Hang Seng index

gained 0.1%.

Also overseas, the


Stoxx Europe 600 index

was up 0.4%.

In the United States, the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has pushed daily virus cases ahead of those fueled by the Delta variant over the summer, according to CNN. Airlines canceled thousands of flights over the Christmas weekend and delayed countless others as Covid spikes created staffing shortages. Bloomberg reported that new cases of coronavirus in New York state surged to an all-time high on Christmas Eve.

Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said that while markets have “priced in” that Omicron is a less virulent strain of Covid-19, the “disruption to goods and services from isolating workers, notably air travel, seems to be the main fallout so far.”

But Halley said that likely would only cause “short-term nerves” and he sees the “global recovery story for 2022 still on track.”

The corporate calendar for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day will be quiet. No major companies are scheduled to report earnings or meet with analysts. Economic data also will be light, except for some reports on the U.S. housing market.

Oil prices declined Monday. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.4% to $72.78 a barrel.

Here are some stocks on the move Monday:

United Airlines

(UAL) declined 1.9% as carriers canceled thousands of flights over the Christmas weekend as Covid cases surged.

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) and

American Airlines

(AAL) both declined 1.9%, as well.

Cruise companies such as

Carnival

(CCL) and

Royal Caribbean

(RCL) also posted losses in premarket trading.

Write to Joe Woelfel at joseph.woelfel@barrons.com

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