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Nasdaq hits 9,000 for the first time, S&P 500 reaches all-time high in year-end rally

Stocks climbed Thursday, hitting record highs as the market rallied into the end of 2019.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 60 points, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.3% to a fresh all-time high. The Nasdaq Composite hit 9,000 for the first time ever. Amazon led the gains, jumping 3% after the e-commerce giant said the holiday shopping season broke all records. Trading volumes are expected to remain thin this week.

Stocks have been piling up records as the market wraps up 2019. The S&P 500 has risen 2.9% this month and 8.6% this quarter, bringing the year-to-date gains to 29%. The benchmark has a good chance at scoring a historic year: It is less than 1 percentage point from posting the best annual performance since 1997.

“Stocks look like they just wont quit. The rally is for real,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG, said in a note Thursday. “The economy’s engines continue to hum.”

U.S. weekly jobless claims decreased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended Dec. 21, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number is slightly higher than estimates of 220,000 in a Dow Jones poll of economists.

In a shortened Christmas Eve session Tuesday, the S&P 500 finished flat and Nasdaq rose to another record. The tech-heavy index also posted its ninth consecutive record close for the first time since 1998.

Markets in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong remained closed Thursday for the holiday.

Investors have been adding more risk after the U.S. and China announced they have reached a phase one trade agreement earlier this month. The two countries are in the process of translating the deal, aiming to sign it in early January.

In a regular press briefing on Thursday, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said China is in close touch with the U.S. on signing the initial trade pact. President Donald Trump said Tuesday the deal is “getting done,” adding there will be a signing ceremony with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Stocks typically get a boost this time of the year during the so-called Santa Claus rally period. In the final five trading days of the year and the first two tradings days of the new year, the S&P 500 has posted a 1.3% gain on average since 1950, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac. This year’s period began Tuesday.

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