U.S. stock benchmarks ended higher Monday, with the S&P 500 index closing at a fresh peak, as investors resumed trading after the Christmas holiday and kicked off the beginning of a potential Santa Claus rally. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each rose about 1.4% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed about 1%, according to preliminary data from FactSet. All three indexes closed up for a fourth consecutive trading day, amid indication from Mastercard Spending Pulse that holiday shopping rose this year. Many investors are now watching for the so-called Santa Claus rally that tends to show up in the period spanning across the last five trading days of December and the first two trading sessions of the New Year – a stretch in which all three of the major U.S. stock benchmarks have risen for the past five years straight, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Investors pushed U.S. stock indexes higher Monday even after the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus led to canceled flights over Christmas weekend and White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that COVID-19 cases will probably keep climbing.
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