US markets hit record highs on Thursday, boosted by optimism over a US-China trade deal and positive sentiment on Wall Street as 2019 drew to a close.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq set new records on Thursday, exceeding expectations of the traditional year-end “Santa Claus” rally as 2019 gains showed no signs of abating.
The gains, on thin trading volumes with markets still closed in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong, came as Amazon shares climbed 1.8% after the e-commerce company said the holiday shopping season had broken all prior records, rising 19% over the period.
Markets also responded to upbeat news on the US-China trade talks, after China’s commerce ministry said it was in close contact with Washington over a deal. On Tuesday, Trump said a deal with Beijing was “getting done”.
Optimism over a deal also moved oil prices higher. Benchmark Brent crude was up 49 cents, or 0.7%, at $67.73 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate was up 52 cents or 0.8% at $61.63 a barrel.
US stocks remain the leading performers for the year. The S&P 500 has risen 2.6% this month and 8.2% this quarter, bring the year-to-date gains to 28.6%. The index is 1% off its best annual performance since 1997.
Through the first 51 weeks of this year, the Dow is up by about 24%.
“Stocks look like they just wont quit. The rally is for real,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at global financial group MUFG, said in a note on Thursday. “The economy’s engines continue to hum.”