- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wall Street edged up in a minor Christmas rally Wednesday in the face of mixed economic news, much of it on the downside, that included a rise in initial jobless claims to their highest level in 26 years. The Dow broke a five-day losing streak.

At the close of a truncated Christmas Eve session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 48.99, or 0.58 percent, to 8,468.48, after falling for five straight sessions. The blue-chip index is well off its November lows, but is still down for the typically strong month of December.

Broader stock indicators also gained. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures rose 4.99, or 0.58 percent, to 868.15, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 3.36, or 0.22 percent, to 1,524.90.

Shares in financial, transport and retail companies moved up during very light holiday week volume. Oil dipped downward again, with the price falling below $38 a barrel.

Floor traders, as they do every year on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, gathered for a moment at the New York Stock Exchange to sing “Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie.” The song is about waiting for the rain to end, and the Big Board tradition has roots going back to the Great Depression.

Wednesday’s stock moves were considered largely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Trading volumes were extremely low ahead of Christmas, and the markets closed early Wednesday at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

And with only four trading days left in 2008, most buying and selling appeared to be investors trying to dress up their portfolios after a year of unprecedented market turmoil.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume amounted to 1.4 billion shares.

Bond prices, like stocks, were little changed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose modestly to 2.19 percent from 2.18 percent late Tuesday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude for February delivery fell $3.63 to settle at $35.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Nymex, like the stock and bond markets, will be closed on Thursday and re-open on Friday.

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