Stock Market Today: Stocks Close Higher in Light Trading

Inflation data helped stocks post gains in a quiet session.

green stock market chart
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks managed to post gains on light volume ahead of the long holiday weekend. 

Reassuring data on inflation soothed traders' nerves, which have been rattled in December by the Federal Reserve's policy of relentlessly hiking interest rates. Be that as it may, not many market participants are around at this time of year, which makes it tough to develop takeaways from what the equity benchmarks are doing. 

That's especially true this year, given that the stock market will be closed Monday in observance of Christmas, which falls on a weekend in 2022.

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For the most part, economic data on durable goods and inflation drove Friday's session.

As for the former, the Commerce Department reported that durable goods orders plunged 2.1% in November, which was well short of economists’ forecast for a decline of 0.6%. We also saw the release of the Fed's preferred measure of inflation known as the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE).

The latest report showed that inflation slowed in November to a 5.5% increase in prices vs. the prior month. That was in line with economists' forecasts and represented a slowdown from October's 6.1% monthly rise in prices. Any data that suggests the Fed is succeeding in taming the worst inflation in four decades is generally applauded by the market, which is desperate for the central bank to slow its policy of interest rate hikes.

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In less bullish news, the PCE report also showed that consumer spending rose just 0.1% in November, which represented a deceleration from October's increase of 0.9%. The figure troubled at least some market participants as it could signal a potential slowdown in consumer spending.

"November’s personal income and expenditure report was close to what markets were expecting, even though consumption was relatively weak in both nominal and real terms," wrote Eugenio J. Alemán, chief economist at Raymond James. "The report was consistent with the weak retail sales report earlier this month, where we saw a very weak print for the consumption of goods and a relatively strong print for the consumption of services."

At the closing bell, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5% to finish at 33,203, while the broader S&P 500 gained 0.6% to 3,844. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2% to close at 10,497.

The Best Bear Market ETFs to Buy Now

With just a handful of trading days left in 2022, the stock market is all but certain to log its worst annual performance since 2008. All three major market benchmarks entered bear market territory this year, and there's no telling when they'll pull out of it. 

But as unpleasant as they may be, bear markets are natural and inevitable – and surviving a bear market needn't be all that complicated. Whether we're talking about the best stocks for a bear market, the best defensive Dow dividend stocks or even stocks picked by artificial intelligence, investors have no shortage of strategies to mitigate the damage.

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Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer,

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.

Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.

Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.