Wall Street ended a holiday-shortened week with even more records as small gains made a big impact.
Since Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 1.5%, the S&P 500 has gained 1.4%, and the Nasdaq has climbed 1.4%. The Dow and S&P 500 have closed at records every day this week, while the Nasdaq has scored three of the four days. The Dow topped 19,000 for the first time ever earlier in the week.
Growing confidence over a December rate hike kept investors bullish this week. Minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's meeting in November, released on Wednesday afternoon, confirmed expectations for an interest rate hike in December. The Federal Reserve noted that inflation has been rising and that the labor market has improved.
"Most participants expressed a view that it could well become appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate relatively soon," the Fed minutes said.
Fed members have recently taken a hawkish turn as labor market strength has held and inflation has moved toward the Fed's 2% target. Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer touted recent improvements in the U.S. economy earlier in the week.
"Notwithstanding a number of shocks over the past year, the U.S. economy is performing reasonably well," Fischer said in prepared comments to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday. "After running at a subdued pace during the first half of the year, gross domestic product growth has picked up in the most recent data, and inflation has been firming toward the Federal Open Market Committee's 2% target."
A rate hike in December has a high probability among Wall Street observers, with any doubt after Donald Trump's recent election as U.S. president quickly evaporating. The chances of a December rate hike currently sit at 98%, according to CME Group fed funds futures. The FOMC kept its fed funds rate unchanged at its November meeting, but said that the case for a hike had strengthened.
Crude oil ended the week higher as traders grew slightly more assured that major oil-producing countries might agree to a production freeze agreement when they meet next week.
Some doubts emerged over the likelihood of a deal among Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, though, after informal talks highlighted some resistance from key players. Iran, Iraq and Indonesia have reportedly resisted parts of the deal in a conversation in Vienna on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Early in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a willingness to agree to a production freeze deal with OPEC.
Oil prices have been victim in recent weeks to fluctuating hopes over an OPEC deal. OPEC aims to limit production to 32.5 million to 33 million barrels a day. The bloc reached a record 33.83 million barrels a day pumped last month.
In earnings news, Deere (DE) reported a better-than-expected quarter. The farming equipment maker earned 90 cents a share over its October-ended quarter, down from $1.08 a share a year earlier but much higher than the consensus of 40 cents. Deere expects equipment sales to decline 4% in the first quarter and 1% for fiscal 2017.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) reported quarterly revenue which came in light. The tech company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $12.48 billion, missing estimates by $370 million. Meanwhile, HP (HPQ) , formerly combined with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, exceeded its quarterly sales estimates. Revenue climbed 1.9% to $12.5 billion, besting consensus estimates by $620 million. HP declined by 6.8%.
In the retail sector, GameStop (GME) reported a decline in third-quarter sales and gave guidance for a subpar fourth-quarter performance. Urban Outfitters (URBN) fell short of earnings and sales estimates in its third quarter. DSW (DSW) lifted its full-year outlook on the back of tighter cost controls and improved sales. Barnes & Noble (BKS) narrowed its second-quarter loss and reported better-than-expected sales.
Stock markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Friday was a shortened session with benchmark indexes closing early at 1 p.m. EST. Trading will resume as normal on Monday.