Dow Set for Sixth Day of Gains, Bitcoin Slips, Oil Rises—and What Else Is Happening in the Stock Market Today

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Trading remains quiet over the holiday period.

Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

The stock market was edging higher Wednesday amid quiet trading over the holiday period, as investors remained optimistic despite rising Covid-19 cases.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicated an open 50 points or 0.1% higher, with the index on track for its sixth consecutive day of gains, after rising 96 points Tuesday to close at 36,398. Futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq signalled a similarly upbeat start.

Overseas, the pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.2% higher and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.6%.

While cases of the contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus continue to surge globally, a rise in Covid-19 infections has yet to derail the narrative of economic recovery or dent economic data.

“Markets are overwhelmingly pricing in the latest variant as a milder incarnation, despite its easier contractibility,” said Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at broker Oanda. “With market activity much reduced for the holiday season, investors continue to tentatively price in a global recovery hitting a minor bump, and not a pothole.”

In cryptocurrency markets, Bitcoin —the leading digital asset—was lower, having fallen around 4% from Tuesday to around $47,700 and trading at its lowest level since early last week.

“I suspect year-end book squaring into thin market conditions exaggerated the range,” noted Halley. “Only a weekly close below $40,000 will have me concerned that another major downside correction is in play.”

In the day ahead, investors will eye official U.S. crude inventory data, which could add pressure to oil markets that have enjoyed a recent rally. Data reported by the American Petroleum Institute Tuesday showed inventories fell by more than 3 million barrels last week, supporting prices.

“Omicron’s rampage could show up in higher oil derivative stockpiles. That may give the oil recovery some food for thought but is very unlikely to derail it,” said Halley. “The fast-money tail-chasers inhabiting the oil market recently look like they are finally taking a holiday break instead of drinking too much coffee.”

Futures for international oil benchmark Brent were up 0.2% Wednesday to just below $79, while U.S. futures for West Texas Intermediate crude were similarly up to above $76. Oil has risen some 4% so far this week.

Write to Jack Denton at jack.denton@dowjones.com