Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite all hit record

Dec. 17 (UPI) — U.S. stocks closed at record highs on Thursday as investors maintained optimism over COVID-19 stimulus negotiations in Congress.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 148.76, or 0.49%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.58% and the Nasdaq Composite increased 0.84% all record closing highs.

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The real estate, materials and health care sectors led the S&P 500’s rise, climbing 1% each.

Johnson & Johnson stock gained 2.64%, Home Depot grew 1.6% and Nike increased 1.58% to help lead the Dow higher.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said Congress was nearing a coronavirus stimulus deal as leaders on Wednesday discussed a $900 stimulus package including direct payments to individuals.

“Stimulus is still the main driver in the market right now until they get something done and it does appear there is some motivation on that front to get something done,” Dan Deming, managing director at KKM Financial said.

Thursday’s gains came despite 247,000 new coronavirus cases in the United States on Wednesday and nearly 3,700 deaths both representing all-time highs.

Since the start of the health crisis, there have been 17.01 million COVID-19 cases and 308,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 885,000 workers filed new claims for the week ending Dec. 12, the most since early September.

The S&P and Nasdaq hit record highs on Wednesday as well as lawmakers discussed the stimulus bill and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell committed to continue buying at least $120 billion worth of bonds each month until the United States reaches full employment and inflation remains at 2%.

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