The US markets closed at fresh record highs on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq registering a sixth straight gain for 2018. The upbeat sentiment that has kept the 2017 global stock rally running into the New Year still has a grip on the market. On the Federal Reserve front, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said that US must wrestle with a fiscal deficit over the long term tied to the tax-cut legislation. He also said he wouldn't be surprised to see a burst higher for productivity, which has been elusive even as the job market remains healthy.
On the economy front, the number of job openings in the US fell to a six-month low of 5.88 million in November from 5.93 million in the prior month. The chief reason - another late-in-the-year hiring surge. About 5.5 million people were hired and 5.2 million lost their jobs in November. The increase in hiring was the second largest during the current eight-and-a-half-year-old expansion. The peak occurred a month earlier in October. The share of people who left jobs on their own, known as the quits rate, was 2.4% among private-sector employees. That number has barely budged in the past year but remains near a post-recession high. The decline in job openings took place mostly in a catchall category known as other services as well as transportation, warehousing and real estate. Hiring in those areas rose sharply in November.
Meanwhile, the index of small-business optimism from the National Federation of Independent Businesses fell 2.6 points to 104.9 in December. The closely watched index of sentiment among small-business owners soared after the 2016 presidential election, pushing 2017 average monthly readings to the highest levels in the four-decade history of the index. In November, the gauge hit its second highest level on record.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 102.8 points or 0.41 percent to 25,385.80, the Nasdaq gained 6.192 points or 0.09 percent to 7,163.58, and the S&P 500 edged higher by 3.58 points or 0.13 percent to 2,751.29.