Wall St wavers as S&P 500 hovers near all-time closing high

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 7, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Wall Street moved sideways on Wednesday in languid trading, with very little market-moving news to nudge sentiment in either direction as the kept hovering just below bull market confirmation.

Volume was light and the three major U.S. stock indexes oscillated between modest gains and losses, with all three on course for monthly, quarterly, and annual gains.

“When you have very few catalysts and minimal trading activity you tend to see continuation of the trends,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.

“We’ve got three days left of trading in the year,” Carlson added. “That means three days left of tax harvesting, three days of portfolio window dressing … those sort of things can get magnified because of the lack of trading volume.”

The S&P 500 was last 0.5% below its record closing high of 4,796.56 reached on Jan. 3, 2022.

Reaching a new record close would confirm the bellwether index entered a bull market when it reached the bear market closing trough in October 2022.

“Those kind of milestones are important because they can generate activity for investors who are sitting on the fence,” Carlson said.

In the wake of Friday’s cooler-than-expected U.S> PCE price index data, bets are firming that the Fed will start issue its first rate cut as soon as March, which is supporting interest rate sensitive shares and giving Wall Street’s major indexes an upward bias.

At last glance, financial markets have priced in a 73.2% probability that policymakers will reduce the Fed funds target rate by 25 basis points at the conclusion of their March policy meeting, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

At 2:09PM ET, the rose 32.86 points, or 0.09%, to 37,578.19, the S&P 500 lost 2.29 points, or 0.05%, to 4,772.46 and the added 0.88 points, or 0.01%, to 15,075.45.

Among the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, consumer staples enjoyed the largest percentage gain, while energy shares, weight by falling crude prices, were down the most.

Shares of Bit Digital jumped 16.6% following the U.S.-based bitcoin miner’s announcement that it plans to double its mining operations.

Coherus BioSciences rose 22.9% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drug delivery device for its infection-fighting treatment.

First Wave BioPharma shares surged 65.4% after the drug developer agreed to sell its inflammatory bowel disease drug to an undisclosed company.

Cytokinetics (NASDAQ:) soared 77.8% after its experimental heart disease drug met the main goal of late-stage study, putting it on track to compete with a rival treatment from Bristol Myers (NYSE:) Squibb.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 46 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 204 new highs and 52 new lows.

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