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Dow, S&P 500 close at record highs due to Santa Claus rally
Last Updated: 2014-12-23 08:05 | Xinhua
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U.S. stocks rose on Monday for a fourth straight session riding the Santa Claus rally, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closing at record highs.

The blue-chip Dow increased 154.64 points, or 0.87 percent, to 17,959.44. The S&P 500 climbed 7.89 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2, 078.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 16.04 points, or 0.34 percent, to 4,781.42.

Last week, the three major indices surged, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 logging their best weekly gain since October, buoyed substantially by the Federal Reserve's pledge to be "patient" in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy following its last policy meeting of this year.

Trading volume is expected to be low this week, as the U.S. stock market will be closed on Thursday for the Christmas holiday and open only half day on Wednesday.

The U.S stock market has seen a Santa Claus rally as December is seasonally considered as the best month of a year.

On the economic front, U.S. existing-home sales slid 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million in November, the lowest level since May, as housing supply showed some tightening, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

On corporate news, shares of U.S. biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc. slumped 14.34 percent to 92.90 U.S. dollars apiece amid news that Express Scripts Holding Company, the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, decided to drop Gilead's hepatitis C drugs for cheaper treatments offered by its rival AbbVie.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 7.52 percent to end at 15.25 on Monday.

In other markets, crude prices moved down Monday as traders sold on profit-taking after last Friday's rally. Crude prices rebounded around 4 percent last Friday from a five-year low as investors started to buy in after sharp decline.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery lost 1.87 dollars to settle at 55.26 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for February delivery fell 1.27 dollars to close at 60.11 dollars a barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose against other major currencies on Monday before the release of major data from the country, including final third-quarter GDP, November new home sales and durable goods orders scheduled out on Tuesday.

In late New York trading, the euro decreased to 1.2224 dollars from 1.2225 dollars in the previous session, while the greenback bought 120.01 Japanese yen, higher than 119.51 yen of the previous session.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped on Monday as oil prices weakened.

The most active gold contract for February delivery dropped 16. 2 dollars, or 1.35 percent, to settle at 1,179.80 dollars per ounce.

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