* Dow up after record close; on track for 6th straight gain
* Jobless claims fall more than expected in latest week
* Retailers rise; MasterCard data shows holiday sales growth
* Dow up 0.7 pct, S&P 500 up 0.5 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 26 U.S. stocks rose on Thursday,
putting the Dow on track for a record closing high for a sixth
straight day as retail names rallied following strong data about
the holiday shopping season.
Trading volume was light in the first full day of trading
since Monday, following an early close on Tuesday and
Wednesday's Christmas holiday.
While the market's light action could amplify trading
volatility, Wall Street's recent upward bias continued, with the
Dow on track for its longest winning streak since March. Both
the Dow and the S&P 500 closed at record highs on Tuesday.
"I don't get why we seem to have an eternally upward market,
but it looks like that's what we have," said Kim Forrest, senior
equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in
Pittsburgh. "There's no reason to sell stocks, but also not much
reason to buy except for that fact that we continue to be poised
to go higher."
In a positive sign for economic growth, initial jobless
claims fell 42,000 in the latest week, dropping to 338,000 - the
lowest level in nearly a month. Analysts had expected 345,000
Retail stocks stayed in the spotlight as the holiday
shopping season drew to a close. Data published by MasterCard
Advisors SpendingPulse said sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24
rose 2.3 percent, bucking concerns that the season had been
The S&P retail index jumped 0.8 percent. The stock
of Urban Outfitters rose 2.8 percent to $37.81 and was
the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer. Online retailer
Amazon.com Inc gained 1 percent to $403.12.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 118.58 points,
or 0.72 percent, at 16,476.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 8.25 points, or 0.45 percent, at 1,841.57. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.74 points, or 0.26
percent, at 4,166.16.
The Dow climbed to an all-time intraday high of 16,480.64,
while the S&P 500 hit a record intraday high of 1,842.26.
Energy shares also climbed. Exxon Mobil Corp shot up
1.8 percent to $100.97 and helped boost the Dow. Chevron Corp
, another Dow component, rose 1.1 percent to $124.86.
At the end of Tuesday's abbreviated trading session, the Dow
marked its fifth straight record closing high and the S&P 500
achieved its third record closing high in a row.
The S&P 500 has soared almost 29 percent this year, largely
due to stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The index is on
track for its best year since 1997. The Dow is up 25.2 percent
in 2013 while the Nasdaq has jumped about 38 percent.
United Parcel Service on Tuesday said poor weather
and a high volume of holiday packages delayed the arrival of
Christmas presents around the world. Amazon offered compensation
to affected customers with shipping refunds and $20 gift cards.
Shares of UPS rose 0.1 percent to $104.52 while peer
shipping company FedEx Corp gained 1.1 percent to
In another black eye for the retail industry, the hackers
who attacked Target Corp and compromised up to 40
million credit cards and debit cards also managed to steal
encrypted personal identification numbers, a senior payments
executive told Reuters.
The discount store chain's stock rose 1.1 percent to $62.45,
though it remained down 1.7 percent over the past five sessions.
In the telecom sector, sources close to the matter told
Reuters that Japan's SoftBank Corp was in talks to buy
T-Mobile US Inc. Shares of T-Mobile US traded at their
highest levels since 2007, gaining 0.8 percent to $32.45 in late
afternoon trading. The stock was slightly off an intraday high
In other markets, U.S. benchmark Treasuries yields edged
higher and were just below their two-year high of 3 percent.
Analysts said that if yields stay at that level for an extended
period, it might be a negative for stocks and other risky