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U.S. stock indexes on Friday were little changed but edging slightly higher, in the final trading day of 2021, with risk appetite waning on New Year’s Eve.

With most European markets closed or shutting down early on Friday, trading is expected to be thin in U.S. markets too as investors close out a good year for global equities with economies recovering from the global pandemic.

Read: Is the U.S. stock market closed on Friday for New Year’s Eve? No. It isn’t even closed on Monday. Here’s why!

How are stock benchmarks trading?
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.05% was gaining 36 points, or 0.1%, to reach 36,433.
  • The S&P 500 SPX, -0.04% rose 5 points, or 0.1%, to reach 4,783.
  • The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.09% advanced 26 points, or 0.2%, at 15,767.

On Thursday, the Dow closed down 90.55 points, or 0.3%, to 36,398.08, the S&P 500 index fell 14.33 points, or 0.3%, to close at 4,778.73, the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 24.65 points to 15,741.56, a 0.2% loss.

What’s driving the market?

It is the final trading session of the week, month, quarter and year, which is one reason that Wall Street is open on New Year’s Eve and will see regular trading hours as market participants close out their trading logs.

However, thinner holiday volumes could result in some choppiness in the action in the final session of 2021, following a strong start to the past week of December, as investors assess the path ahead for markets, a path that has been colored by a global pandemic that has last about two years so far.

Despite the recent dips in the action, both the Dow and the S&P 500 posted record-high closes this week, with the rise for equities supported by the belief that disruptions from the omicron variant that causes COVID-19 won’t be lasting.

The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has risen at a parabolic pace to 344,543 on Thursday, up from 301,477 on Wednesday, which is up about fourfold since Dec. 1 and 37% above the January 2021 daily peak of 251,232, according to a New York Times tracker. Hospitalizations also kept climbing, but at a slower pace, as the daily average reached 81,847 on Thursday,

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights Thursday because of labor shortages after thousands were scrubbed during the Christmas weekend, and the Federal Aviation Administration also warns of possible delays tied to the virus at the federal agency. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans avoid taking cruises, whether they are vaccinated or not.

JPMorgan Chase is one prominent bank that has offered its employees the option of working from home to start 2022. The money-center bank run by Jamie Dimon is “allowing for more flexibility during the first two weeks of January to work from home (if your role allows) at your manager’s discretion,” Bloomberg reported, citing a Thursday memo to employees.

However, in South Africa, where the omicron variant of COVID was first identified, the government said the country’s latest viral wave had subsided and it would be easing restrictions. In America, while daily covid cases soared to a record high, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that relatively few people are being hospitalised or dying as a result of omicron. And White House medical expert Anthony Fauci has said that he is expecting the omicron outbreak to peak by the end of January.

There is no U.S. data due to the holiday and the bond market will close an hour earlier at 2 p.m. Eastern on Friday.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Advanced Micro Devices IncAMD said Thursday that its acquisition of fellow semiconductor company Xilinx Inc. XLNX would not close by the end of 2021, but did say it expects the deal to be sealed early in the new year. Shares of AMD were up 1.8% and Xilinx was trading flat.
  • Shares of Zepp Health CorpZEPP dropped 1.6% Friday, after the China-based smart health technology company cut its fourth-quarter revenue outlook, citing a “greater than anticipated effects of COVID” and a more persistent global shortage of semiconductors.
  • The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said it’s approved Pfizer’s PFE Paxlovid oral antiviral for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 and have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness. Shares of Pfizer were up 1.1%.
How are other assets faring?
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y was at around 1.50%, down 1.1 basis points but holding above 1.5%. Yields for debt rise as prices falls.
  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1%.
  • Oil futures fell, with the U.S. benchmark CL00 trading $1.23, or 1.6%, to trade at $75.81 a barrel.
  • Gold futures GC00 for February delivery GCG22 were up 0.3% at $1,820 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin BTCUSD was up 1.7% at around $48,000.
  • The FTSE 1000 UKX, -0.25% was trading 0.4% lower and will close early on Friday, while the Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.16% was down 0.2% and will also close early.
  • In Asian trade, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP ended 0.6% higher, while the Hang Seng Index HSI climbed 1.2%. China’s CSI 300 000300 booked a 0.4% advance.

Source: This post first appeared on http://marketwatch.com/

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