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S&P 500 inches towards new record

Stocks finished higher Wednesday as traders kept an eye on the S&P 500s march toward record levels.The S&P 500 inched up 0.14% to end at 4,781.58, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.16% to close at 15,099.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 111.19 points, or 0.3%, to finish at 37,656.52. The Dow notched a fresh closing high, while the broad-based index finished less than 0.5% off of its closing record of 4,796.56 set in January 2022. Along with the Dow and Nasdaq, the S&P is also enjoying an eight-week winning streak its longest since 2017. It has been a strong year for stocks. The Dow and S&P 500 are poised to end 2023 higher by 13% and 24%, respectively. The Nasdaq Composite has jumped 44%, outperforming amid mega-cap technologys rebound and the artificial intelligence craze. The tech-heavy benchmark is also on track for its biggest one-year gain since 2003, when it surged 50%.Stocks are in the thick of whats referred to as the Santa Claus rally, a period comprised of the last five trading days of an ending year and first two of a new one. The S&P 500 has risen about 1.3% over this timeframe on average, according to data going back to 1950 from the Stock Traders Almanac.Despite the upbeat sentiment, some on Wall Street worry that the market may be overly optimistic, which could lead to dissappointment if the Federal Reserve starts cutting rates later than expected, said CFRAs Stovall.The market is pricing in a more than 70% probability of cut at the central banks March meeting, according to CME Groups FedWatch tool.In company specific news, Cytokinetics recently shared promising findings from a phase 3 trial of aficamten, showing significant enhancements in peak oxygen uptake for specific obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients. Analysts anticipate these results could widen the market scope and potentially enhance merger and acquisition possibilities. Meanwhile, Coherus Biosciences received FDA approval for Udenyca Onbody, their on-body injector presentation of the cancer drug Udenyca, marking a positive milestone for the company.The New York Times has initiated a legal action, making history as the first major US media company to sue OpenAI and Microsoft. They allege that these tech giants utilized millions of articles without authorization to develop their advanced AI chatbots, considering it a “free-ride” on their content. Seeking unspecified damages in the billions, the lawsuit accuses both companies of benefiting from extensive copyright infringement, commercial use, and the unauthorized use of The Times’s intellectual property. This move reflects wider concerns among media firms regarding generative AI models potentially incorporating their content without consent or compensation during their development process.China has imposed an export ban on technology essential for extracting critical materials, aiming to safeguard its dominance over strategic metals. This move aligns with China’s stricter regulations on metal exports, reflecting a growing global struggle between China and Western nations for control over critical minerals, where China’s mastery in solvent extraction poses a challenge for Western rare earth processing endeavors.sources:Bloomberg,FactSet,IRESS,TradingView,UBS,BourseData,TradingEconomics.