Stocks tick up, oil gains in thin holiday volume

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks edged higher on Tuesday as trading in some of the world’s major financial markets resumed after a Christmas break, with oil also up, supported by looming supply cuts.

A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 27, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Trading volume across markets was expected to remain thin, as it usually is in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Concerns about Italian banks, Chinese growth and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s protectionist bent look set to keep investors on edge into the start of 2017.

But expectations that the incoming administration will champion a fiscal boost for the U.S. economy also have markets betting on inflation and more growth overall that could benefit companies globally.

Data on Tuesday showed American consumers’ confidence shot to its highest in more than 15 years in December as they saw more strength ahead in business conditions, stock prices and the job market, while house prices continued their steady recovery in October.

“It is a bit of a catch-up rally today, with leadership today coming from areas such as healthcare and technology - those that have not participated fairly in the rally,” said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 11.23 points, or 0.06 percent, to 19,945.04, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 5.09 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,268.88 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 24.75 points, or 0.45 percent, to 5,487.44.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 edged up 0.08 percent, while MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.13 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.26 percent.

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Earlier, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS had risen 0.2 percent while Japan's Nikkei .N225 closed little changed.

The U.S. dollar rose against the yen on the stronger-than-expected U.S. housing data and expectations for a hawkish Federal Reserve, but remained below a recent 10-month high.

“The dollar has been and is likely to continue to be supported by expectations that a new administration in Washington is going to be inflationary, and thus force the Fed to raise U.S. borrowing costs at a faster pace in 2017,” Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, said in a research note.

The dollar index .DXY gained 0.04 percent. The euro rose 0.03 percent to $1.0456.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield US10YT=RR hit a session high at 2.576 percent. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.5614 percent.

“The (economic data) numbers were stronger than expected so that kind of puts you in a direction, and the thinness in this market probably puts you this far in that direction,” said Lou Brien, market strategist at DRW Trading in Chicago.

“It doesn’t take much selling or buying to push it one way or another this week.”

Oil prices rose on expectations of tighter supply once the first output cut deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 15 years takes effect on Sunday.

U.S. crude CLc1 was last up 1.6 percent at $53.84 a barrel and Brent LCOc1 traded at $56.04, up 1.6 percent on the day.

Trading was thin on Tuesday, with less than one-half of the usual volume in futures contracts in West Texas Intermediate crude oil.

“Some of the (OPEC) doubts people are showing are going to have to be put to rest,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “There’s a strong possibility that we’re going to rally into the end of the year.”

Spot gold XAU= edged up and was last up 0.49 percent at $1,139.17 an ounce.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Dion Rabouin, Sam Forgione, Chuck Mikolajczak and David Gaffen; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler