Stock market news live updates: December 21, 2021

Markets rallied on Tuesday, closing higher in a major comeback from the biggest three-day drop since September 30.

In a turnaround from earlier losses, all three major indexes closed up more than 1% each, with the Dow gaining 560 points, or 1.6%. The S&P also rose 1.78% in an 81-point jump, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 360 points, or 2.4%.

The moves follow news of federal involvement to mitigate Omicron and imminent authorization of an at-home COVID-19 treatment after renewed fears around the variant spooked traders in previous sessions, igniting concerns that rising case numbers could derail economic growth and worsen inflationary pressures.

President Biden also announced in remarks Tuesday afternoon that he was considering a reversal of travel restrictions related to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The U.S. implemented a ban on travel from South Africa along with seven other neighboring countries upon discovery of the strain.

The FDA is expected to authorize at-home treatment pills for the virus from Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK). Shares of Pfizer closed down 3.39% at $58.95 a piece, while Merck traded at $75.43 per share, down 1.14%.

TCW Group Senior Portfolio Manager Diane Jaffee told Yahoo Finance Live earlier that despite immediate sell-offs that typically happen upon new variants or rising cases, the markets always resume their climb once investors get comfortable with vaccination rates, news of treatments and how cases are resolved.

“There is that fear happening in investors’ minds — rightly so,” Jaffee said. “But there is that underlying strength to the U.S. economy that cannot be denied.”

“On the virus side, ultimately what we’ve seen with prior surges and prior variants is that market sell-offs tend to be somewhat contained to a period of time, so we do expect that as we get better and better at dealing with some of these challenges from the economic and market perspective, things will likely settle down despite some of the public health challenges we have ahead,” Meera Pandit, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management told Yahoo Finance Live.

As Americans scramble to look for COVID-19 tests amid the recent surge, Rite Aid (RAD) has outlined plans to close underperforming locations in a bid to further improve its profits. The pharmacy said Tuesday that it will shutter up to 63 stores in coming months, with expectations to pad earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by $25 million.

Shares of Rite Aid closed up 21% at $15.05 a piece.

Even with a holiday-shortened week of trading, investors are tuning into a packed economic release schedule, and new inflation data will be a central focus among investors in the coming days.

The Conference Board is set to release its latest consumer confidence index on Wednesday, expected to show an only modest uptick for the month of December.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis will also publish fresh prints on Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Thursday, a key measure of price changes in the economy. Consensus data compiled by Bloomberg showed PCE is projected to climb at a 0.6% month-over-month rate in November.

4:01 p.m. ET: Stocks jump to end 3-day losing streak

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +81.22 (+1.78%) to 4,649.24

  • Dow (^DJI): +560.97 (+1.61%) to 35,493.13

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +360.14 (+2.40%) to 15,341.09

  • Crude (CL=F): +$2.83 (+4.12%) to $71.44 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$6.00 (-0.33%) to $1,788.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +6.8 bps to yield 1.4870%

3:15 p.m. ET: Biden weighs easing of travel restrictions

President Joe Biden in remarks Tuesday afternoon said he was considering a reversal of travel restrictions related to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The U.S. implemented a ban on travel from South Africa along with seven other neighboring countries upon discovery of the strain.

“Look, remember why I said we put the travel ban on—to see how much time we had before it hit here so we could begin to decide what we needed by looking at what was happening in other countries. And we’re passed that now,” the president said.

Markets each continued to extend gains ahead of close. The Nasdaq was up 323.88 points, or 2.16%, and the Dow continued its climb, rising 1.62% to 567.13 during intraday trading. The S&P 500 was up 1.7%.

12:35 p.m. ET: Stocks U-turn from three-day drop in intraday rally

Here’s how stocks were trading during the midday session as of 12:35 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +62.64 (+1.37%) to 4,630.66

  • Dow (^DJI): +531.68 (+1.52%) to 35,463.84

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +235.50 (+1.57%) to 15,216.44

  • Crude (CL=F): +$2.57 (+3.75%) to $71.18 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$7.30 (-0.41%) to $1,787.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +6.5 bps to yield 1.4840%

10:39 a.m. ET: AT&T greenlights Microsoft acquisition of ad unit

AT&T (T) has agreed to sell its Xandr global advertising platform to Microsoft (MSFT). The telecom giant said in an announcement of the deal Tuesday that Xandr’s technology “strategically complements Microsoft’s current advertising offerings.” Further details about the acquisition were not immediately disclosed.

The move comes amid investor concerns that AT&T was struggling to pay off its debt after the firm poured billions into becoming a one-stop-shop media company, satellite TV provider and advertising platform. Xandr was created under former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson following the $1.6 billion purchase of advertising company AppNexus in 2018.

Shares of AT&T were up 2.07% in early trading to $24.69 a piece, while Microsoft traded at $320.05 per share, up 0.04%. 

9:53 a.m. ET: Memory chip maker rallies after earnings beat

Shares of Micron Technology (MU) climbed after the maker of memory chips surpassed analyst estimates for second-quarter sales. The company is anticipating chip shortages will ease in the second half of 2022 and businesses are positioned to rebound.

The stock ticked up as much as 9.5%, posting its biggest intraday percentage gain since April 2020, according to Bloomberg. Shares traded at $88.80 a piece in the early session, up 8.25% after market open.

Micron is “a compellingly growth at a reasonable price (GARP) beneficiary of secular data center, 5G, metaverse, auto trends and a catch-up candidate after underperforming” BMO Capital Markets wrote.

9:30 a.m. ET: Markets rebound from three-day sell-off

Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +39.48 (+0.86%) to 4,607.50

  • Dow (^DJI): +299.00 (+0.86%) to 35,231.16

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +153.45 (+1.02%) to 15,134.40

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.77 (+2.58%) to $70.38 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$0.40 (+0.02%) to $1,795.00 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +5.1 bps to yield 1.4700%

7:00 a.m. Tuesday ET: Higher futures point to ‘seesaw market’ action

Here were the main moves in markets ahead of Tuesday’s open:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 45 points (+0.99%), to 4,603.50

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 319 points (+0.92%), to 35,132.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 176.5 points (+1.13%) to 15,798.00

6:00 p.m. Monday ET: Futures contracts sink

Here were the main moves ahead of the overnight trading session:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 13.75 points (+0.30%), to 4,572.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 102 points (+0.29%), to 34,915.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 69.75 points (+0.45%) to 15,691.00

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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