Stocks are slightly higher as traders return from vacation

BANGKOK – Tech companies led US stocks higher on Monday, extending the recent market rally. Trade was muted after the Christmas holidays as Wall Street kicked off the last week of a record year for the stock market.

Trading is expected to be calm, but potentially volatile, this week as omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread rapidly throughout the United States and abroad. However, most of the major investors have closed their positions for 2021 and are expected to hold on until next week.

The S&P 500 was up 1.1% at 1:49 p.m. EST. The benchmark, which capped a shortened holiday week on Thursday with an all-time high, is set to end the year with a gain of 27.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7% and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 1.2%.

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Major indices posted weekly gains last week as fears eased over the potential impact of the omicron outbreaks. However, much is still unclear about the variant, which is spreading extremely quickly, leading to a return to pandemic restrictions in some locations.

Tech companies led the gains. Nvidia climbed 3.9%, while Apple and Microsoft each rose 1.9%.

The price of US crude oil rose 2.7%, continuing to rise this month. Energy companies like Devon Energy and Diamondback Energy were among the biggest winners of the S&P 500.

Hundreds of flights were canceled in the United States over the statutory holiday weekend, with airlines reporting staff issues related to COVID. France reported more than 100,000 new cases in a daily record.

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Airlines shares were down on the news, with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines falling about 1%.

Shares of cruise lines also fell. Norwegian Cruise Line slipped 2.7% for the biggest decline in the S&P 500. Carnival and Royal Caribbean slipped more than 1%.

Authorities in many countries have doubled their vaccination efforts as omicron outbreaks complicate efforts to avoid further closures while hospitals remain under pressure from delta-variant infections.

Bond yields were mixed. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 1.48% from 1.49% on Thursday.

Asian and European markets were either closed or mostly up on Monday. London and Hong Kong were closed, while the Japanese stock market closed slightly higher.

In other international developments, the Turkish lira fell another 5% against the dollar. The currency has fallen sharply this year as the Turkish government tried to reinvigorate its economy despite chronically high inflation. The government announced a plan last week that would encourage Turks to put their money back into lira bank accounts to support the currency.

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