Stocks barely higher on Wall Street, led by retailers, tech

<p><p>Stocks were barely higher Wednesday, putting the S&amp;P 500 slightly above the record closing high it set on Monday.</p></p><p><p>With three full trading days left in the year, the S&amp;P 500 is on pace to close up more than 27% for 2021.</p></p><p><p>That would be its best performance since 2019, another banner year for the market.</p></p><p><p>The S&amp;P 500 was up 0.1% as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1% and the Nasdaq fell 0.1%.</p></p><p><p>Technology companies were once again lifting the broader market, helped by storage solutions company Western Digital, which was up 6.6%.</p></p><p><p>Seagate Technology and Micron Technology were also up roughly 2%.</p></p><p><p>Retailers and companies reliant on consumer spending were also among the better performers coming off the Christmas holiday shopping season.</p></p><p><p>Target, Nike, Kroger, Under Armour and AutoZone were all up 1.5% or more.</p></p><p><p>Investors have become more comfortable with <a href=”” target=”—blank”>the omicron variant</a> of the coronavirus in the the last couple of weeks.</p></p><p><p>The quickly spreading virus appears to be less severe and cause less death and hospitalization than other versions of the virus.</p></p><p><p>Much is still uncertain about omicron, which is spreading extremely quickly and leading to a return to pandemic restrictions in some places.</p></p><p><p>The variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain throughout the world.</p></p><p><p>While virus-related lockdowns and travel restrictions remain a big concern, most big investors have closed out their positions for 2021 and are likely to hold their ground until next week.</p></p><p><p>Trading this week has been slow, with less than 3 billions shares exchanging hands on the New York Stock Exchange the last two days, compared to the 4.5 billion shares typically bought and sold on an average day.</p></p><p><p>Bond yields were moving higher in the final days of 2021. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 1.52% compared with 1.48% the day before.</p></p><p><p>Benchmark U.S. crude fell 13 cents to $75.79 a barrel. Oil prices are on pace to end the year up 56%.</p></p>