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Wall Street Trades Higher Entering Christmas Weekend; Dow up 245 Pts By - - Financial Markets Worldwide

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Stock Markets 8 hours ago (Dec 23, 2021 02:19PM ET)

Wall Street Trades Higher Entering Christmas Weekend; Dow up 245 Pts © Reuters.

By Geoffrey Smith -- U.S. stock markets traded mostly higher in quiet trading on Thursday, shrugging off a mixed set of economic data and winding down ahead of the Christmas holiday period. 

At 2:15 PM ET (1915 GMT), the was up 245 points, or 0.7% at 36,000 points, while the was up 0.8% and the was up 1%. 

All three indices added to sharp gains made on Wednesday, amid a growing body of scientific evidence that the latest dominant strain of the Covid-19 virus may be significantly less dangerous than previous strains. Data from the U.K., Denmark and South Africa in the last 48 hours have all shown a reduced risk of serious illness from the so-called Omicron stream. 

Earlier, the latest economic data from the U.S. showed a modest slowdown in personal spending in November, which grew only 0.6% on the month. That's still a decent clip but is clearly down from earlier in the year, and analysts said it added to evidence suggesting that the consumer boom fueled by stimulus payments over the first 18 months of the pandemic is slowing. 

The trend was also reflected in a 0.1% drop in core in November, stripping out defense- and aviation-related orders, which tend to be more volatile. 

In more encouraging news, continued to bounce along at a historically low 205,000 last week, indicating no softening of conditions in the labor market despite the latest increase in Covid-19 cases across the U.S. 

Core prices for personal consumer expenditures, meanwhile, again showed why the Federal Reserve is pivoting faster to a tighter monetary policy stance. The Fed's preferred measure of inflation rose by 0.5% on the month, more than the 0.4% expected, and October's data were also revised up to show a 0.5% gain. That brought the annual rate of PCE inflation to 4.7%, up from 4.2% in October. The benchmark U.S. Treasury yield touched 1.50% for the first time in 10 days in response.

There were few individual stock moves of note. Among the biggest was Chinese e-commerce giant JD (NASDAQ:).com ADRs, which fell 9.9% after long-term backer Tencent Holdings (OTC:) distribute almost all of its stake in the company, saying it was strong enough to stand on its own two feet. The move comes after months of increased scrutiny of China's Internet giants by Beijing's antitrust authorities, which has slashed tens of billions of dollars off their market value.  Tencent ADRs rose 4.2% but are still down some 40% from their July peak.

Quidel Corporation (NASDAQ:) shares took a 17% dip after the test maker announced an of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, as the market seems concerned about the cost. Shoe manufacturer Crocs Inc (NASDAQ:) took a similar hit, dropping 14% on of Heydude, with similar concerns over the price and the dilution involved.

Avocado producer Mission Produce (NASDAQ:) also fell 9.9% after a dominated by supply bottlenecks that led to spoiled shipments and lower margins. 

Covid vaccine makers , with Novavax Inc (NASDAQ:) leading the way with a 5% drop despite reporting that a two-dose regimen of their vaccine "strong immune responses" against omicron and other Covid-19 variants.

Micron Technology Inc (NASDAQ:) led the , as the memory chip maker approached all-time highs as investors continue to digest the company's strong earnings report from Monday. Micron was up nearly 5% while the iShares Semiconductor ETF (NASDAQ:) was up 1.4%.

traded up nearly 1% and is poised to up 4%, rebounding from Omicron related fears last week.

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(Originally published at 9:50am ET, updated at 2:20pm)

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