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Stock Market News Live Updates: Stock Futures Flat After Strong Economic Data Helps Ease Omicron Concerns

Contracts on the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq were sideways heading into overnight trading on Wednesday, building on back-to-back sessions of gains as fears the Omicron variant would derail economic growth cooled among investors who sold-off risky assets at the start of the week on reports of swelling case numbers.

Futures on all three major indexes were in the green Wednesday evening. The moves follow positive economic data that curbed worries of Omicron’s impact on the economy and inflation levels.

In earlier trading, investors weighed an upbeat print on consumer confidence levels and the release of an upwardly revised estimate for domestic GDP, placing all three major averages in the green after a mixed open.

The Conference Board reported consumer confidence increased by a greater-than-expected margin in December, with the headline index at 115.8 during the month and higher than Bloomberg’s consensus estimates of 111.0. In November, the index had a reading of 111.9, revised from an initial report of 109.5. Meanwhile, the nation’s gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.3% in the third quarter in the final estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis after the initial report of 2.1%.

“We’ve been saying that this is definitely a buy the dip sort of market because we expect more earnings upgrades to come,” Anik Sen, PineBridge Investments global head of equities told Yahoo Finance Live. “We think that the real debate should be about the length and strength of the economic cycle ahead.”

Even with a holiday-shortened week, more data is scheduled to come out of Washington on Thursday. Investors will tune in for a trove of fresh economic numbers that include personal income, consumer spending, initial jobless claims, and various inflation readings.

The clock is also ticking on a year-end Santa Claus Rally — one in which stocks climb higher in the final seven trading sessions of a year, plus the first two trading days of the new year. Starting tomorrow, traders will see whether 92 years of data uphold.

For reasons unclear, over the past 92 years, the S&P 500 gained 77% of the time during the year-end rally period, according to data from Sundial Capital Research. The average gain in this nine-day trading period tallied 2.66%.

Separately, Oppenheimer chief investment strategist John Stoltzfus disclosed the most bullish price target on the S&P 500, forecasting a 14% climb to 5,330 by the end of 2022. The 38-year Wall Street veteran’s estimate beats even the most optimistic of his peers, BMO Capital Markets’s Brian Belski, who projected S&P 500 5,300.

Meanwile, Pfizer (PFE) received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its at-home COVID-19 pill following clinical trial data that showed the treatment was 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients. Shares of Pfizer gained more than 2% in the earlier trading session following the news and closed up 1.02% at $59.55 a piece.

6:01 p.m. Wednesday ET: Stock futures flat ahead of overnight trading

Here’s how markets were moving in late trading on Wednesday:

S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +4.00 points (+0.09%), to 4,690.00

Dow futures (YM=F): +19.00 points (+0.05%), to 35,651.00

Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +11.05 points (+0.07%) to 16,181.25

Crude (CL=F): +$0.30 (+0.41%) to $73.06 a barrel

Gold (GC=F): +$3.00 (+0.17%) to $1,805.20 per ounce

10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.06 bps to yield % 161.4375

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