The S&P 500 index is entering the Christmas holiday period with extended gains as investors pin their hopes on stronger-than-expected economic data and the studies that show that the Omicron variant caused less severe disease.
Consumer confidence for December rose from 111.9 in November to 115.8 in December, in data released by the Conference Board on Thursday. Existing home sales rose 1.9% in November, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported a 2.3% annualized rise in the Q3 2021 US GDP figure. Consumer spending matched estimates at 0.6%, while weekly jobless claims stayed static at 205K.
Furthermore, two studies from the UK indicated that the COVID-19 Omicron variant caused significantly less disease than once thought, with only 2.5% of cases requiring hospital care. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved an antiviral from Merck to treat symptomatic COVID-19 infection, adding a significant boost to the arsenal of treatments available for the disease.
These factors all combined to lift the S&P 500 index 0.62% on the day for a 3rd straight day of gains.