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US: Wall Street edges up in low volume, boosted by tech shares


[NEW YORK] US stocks rose slightly on Tuesday, supported by upbeat consumer and housing data, with gains in technology shares lifting the Nasdaq Composite to a record close.

At just over four billion shares traded, it was one of the lowest-volume sessions of 2016. Volume across markets is expected to continue to be weak through the end of the year.

Tuesday data showed American consumers' confidence shot to its highest in more than 15 years in December as they saw more strength ahead in business conditions, stock prices and the job market, while house prices continued their steady recovery in October.

US equities have been riding a post-presidential election rally, feeding on optimism that Donald Trump's plans for deregulation and infrastructure spending could bolster the economy. With the market priced for positive outcomes in various scenarios, some see the end-year rally as an opportunity to cash-in gains.

Market voices on:

"There is too much hope and prayer coming from the new administration. Factually, the data is fine - it is not that different than it was six months ago," said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenberg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.

"We've got a mild US consumer that is doing OK, profits have somewhat bounced a little bit, but we are certainly not getting an earnings liftoff here."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 11.23 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 19,945.04, the S&P 500 gained 5.09 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 2,268.88 and the Nasdaq Composite added 24.75 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 5,487.44.

About 4.13 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 7.27 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions. Volume this week last year averaged 5 billion stocks daily.

The largest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 was Nvidia Corp, which rose 6.9 per cent and boosted the chipmakers.

Amazon rose 1.4 per cent to US$771.40. The online retailer said it shipped over 1 billion items to Prime members during the holiday season.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.54-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 174 new highs and 25 new lows.