* Dow ends at record for 6th day; S&P marks 4th record in a
* Jobless claims fall more than expected in latest week
* Retailers rise; MasterCard data shows holiday sales growth
* Dow up 0.8 pct, S&P 500 up 0.5 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, Dec 26 U.S. stocks rose on Thursday,
with the Dow and S&P 500 ending at record highs as retail shares
rallied following strong data about the holiday shopping season.
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 2.2 percent to $37.55 and was
one of the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainers. Online retailer
Amazon.com Inc gained 1.3 percent to $404.39. Wal-Mart
Stores Inc, a Dow component, added 0.5 percent to
"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."
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 122.33
points, or 0.75 percent, to end at 16,479.88, a record closing
high. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 8.70 points,
or 0.47 percent, to finish at 1,842.02, also a record closing
high. The Nasdaq Composite Index shot up 11.76 points,
or 0.28 percent, to close at 4,167.18.
The Dow rose to a record closing high for the sixth straight
session, the longest winning streak for the blue-chip average
since March. The S&P 500 scored its fourth record closing high
in a row. The Dow climbed to an all-time intraday high of
16,483, while the S&P 500 hit a record intraday high of
Volume, though, was light in the first full day of trading
since Monday. Markets were closed on Wednesday for Christmas
Day. U.S. stock trading ended early on Tuesday.
About 3.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges,
well below the 6.2 billion average so far this month, according
to data from BATS Global Markets.
"The path of least resistance, as we tread water, seems to
be trending higher," said Justin Wiggs, managing director at
Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore. "We're pacing very light on
About 51 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock
Exchange closed higher on the day, while 49 percent of
Nasdaq-listed shares ended in positive territory.
Energy shares also climbed. Exxon Mobil Corp shot up
1.7 percent to end at $100.90 and helped boost the Dow. Chevron
Corp, another Dow component, rose 1.1 percent to close
The S&P 500 has soared 29.2 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 has gained 25.8 percent in
2013 while the Nasdaq has jumped 38 percent.
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 1.3 percent to end at
$62.48, though it remained down 1.7 percent from its close on
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 2.3 percent to close at
$32.93, just off an intraday high of $32.95.
In the bond market, 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