Ecommerce drives S&P to record high

The S&P 500 has hit a record high, as a strong retail sales report underscored the strength of the economy and overshadowed worries from Omicron-driven flight cancellations at the start of this year's final trading week.

Retail sales in the country rose 8.5 per cent during this year's holiday shopping season from November 1 to December 24, powered by an ecommerce boom, a report by Mastercard Inc showed.

The S&P 500 retailing index firmed 0.5 per cent.

"Despite the variant and travel interruptions, retail sales were up strongly, which bodes well for the economy going into the new year," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Travel-related stocks, typically sensitive to news around the coronavirus, slid after US airlines canceled about 800 more flights on Monday after nixing thousands of flights during the Christmas weekend, as Omicron cases soared.

The S&P 1500 airlines index shed 1.6 per cent. Cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corp fell 2.2 per cent-3 per cent, leading declines on the benchmark S&P 500.

"The market will continue to rally even though the virus fear factor remains prevalent in the market," Cardillo said.

Monday's climb marks a fourth straight session of gain for Wall Street's main stock indexes after encouraging news last week related to the Omicron variant calmed investor worried about the strain's economic impact.

Nine of 11 main S&P 500 sector indexes advanced, with tech leading percentage gains.

In early trading on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 119.06 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 36,069.62 and the S&P 500 was up 24.64 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 4,750.43.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 84.21 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 15,737.59 on a boost from megacap companies, including Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc, and Meta Platform, rising between 0.9 per cent and 2.3 per cent.

Main stock indexes in the United States are eyeing a third straight yearly gain, with the benchmark S&P 500 on track to close out the year 26.4 per cent higher. The Dow is set to rise 17.8 per cent, while the Nasdaq is looking at a 22.1 per cent climb.

Looking ahead, thinner-than-usual trading volumes ahead of New Year could make markets susceptible to volatile moves, although the last five trading days of December and the first two days of January have boded well for US stocks 75 per cent of the time since 1945, according to CFRA Research data.

GoDaddy Inc rose 6.5 per cent after a report activist investor Starboard Value LP had purchased a 6.5 per cent stake in web services company worth about $US800 million ($A1.1 billion).

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by 1.5-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, while declining issues outnumbered advancers on the Nasdaq by 1.2-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 60 new highs and 52 new lows.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting