U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday after the S&P 500 and Dow each extended a rally to close at all-time highs in the previous session amid a thinly-traded last week of 2021 on Wall Street.

The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq ticked up in intraday trading, as investors weighed fresh jobs data out of Washington and rising cases of COVID-19. Global daily cases hit a record earlier this week, with infections from the highly-transmissible Omicron variant — found to spread 70 times faster than previous strains — comprising much of the newly tracked positive tests. Recent developments indicating that Omicron may cause milder disease helped markets shake off earlier concerns.

“Perversely, bad news around Omicron might be good news for the markets because it gives the Fed the impetus to continue with these very loose monetary policies,” Opimas LLC Chief Executive Officer Octavio Marenzi told Yahoo Finance Live. “Too much good news for the real economy might actually be quite bad for the markets.”

While markets mostly powered on, travel stocks were impacted by virus-related developments.

JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU) said it expects to cut 1,280 flights, scaling down its schedule due to a surge in personnel who have fallen sick. The company’s stock turned red, down -0.21% in early afternoon trading to $14.35 per share. Delta Air Lines (DAL) reported cancellations of an additional 250 flights on Wednesday after thousands of halted and delayed flights by major airlines reported during the Christmas weekend. Airline stocks have taken a hit all week amid growing flight disruptions caused by the latest virus wave and winter weather.

Delta ended Wednesday’s trading session -1.19% down to $39.16 and American Airlines (AAL) closed down 2.64% to $18.05 per share. United Airlines (UAL) saw the session end 1.86% lower at $44.3,

“It’s a controlled meltdown, put it that way,” Boyd Group International president Mike Boyd told Yahoo Finance. Airlines “know where they’re going to be short pretty much ahead of time, and then they have to adjust for it.”

Cruise line operators also edged lower after the CDC advised people to avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status, following an increase in onboard COVID-19 cases. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) shed 1.85% to $21.18 per share. Carnival Corp. (CCL) declined 0.84% to trade at $20.61 a piece, and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) traded down 0.55% to $77.79.

Economic and earnings calendars remain light for the final two trading days of the year, though investors turned their attention Thursday morning to fresh data out of Washington on weekly jobless claims.

The Labor Department released its latest report on initial and continuing jobless claims. First-time unemployment filings fell further from last week’s reading, coming in at 198,000 — below the expected 206,000. Earlier in December, jobless claims fell to 188,000 — its lowest level since 1969.

Meanwhile, in a regulatory filing on Thursday, Samsung BioLogics denied earlier reports that Samsung Group was in talks to acquire U.S. drugmaker Biogen Inc. (BIIB), which was in the spotlight on Wednesday after shares of the drugmaker surged during intraday trading following a report by the Korea Economic Daily, which cited investment banking sources. The report said Biogen approached Samsung to buy its shares in a deal that could be valued at more than $42 billion.

Biogen’s stock was down 8.05% to $237.51 per share as of 1:04 p.m. ET on Thursday. 

1:05 p.m. ET: FDA poised to OK boosters for ages 12-15

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to authorize booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, according to a report from the New York Times.

U.S. regulators are also likely to reduce the time frame for booster eligibility to allow both adolescents and adults get an extra shot of Pfizer’s vaccine five months after receiving a second dose instead of the current period of six months, the New York Times said.

Shares of Pfizer (PFE) were up just shy of 1% to $58.15 per share.

12:45 p.m. ET: Cruise line stocks decline after new CDC recommendation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people to avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status, following an increase in onboard COVID-19 cases.

Cruise ship operators ticked down in midday trading, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) shed 1.85% to $21.18 per share.

Carnival Corp. (CCL) declined 0.84% to trade at $20.61 a piece, and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) traded down 0.55% to $77.79.

12:39 p.m. ET: Markets power on amid lightly-traded week

Here were the main moves in markets as of 12:39 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +6.08 (+0.13%) to 4,799.14

  • Dow (^DJI): +9.20 (+0.03%) to 36,497.83

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +86.10 (+0.55%) to 15,852.32

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.33 (+0.43%) to $76.89 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$8.50 (+0.47%) to $1,814.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.1 bps to yield 1.5220%

12:20 p.m. ET: JetBlue axes 1,280 January flights

JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU) is expected to cut 1,280 flights, scaling down its schedule due to a surge in personnel who have fallen sick from COVID-19. The company’s shares traded at $14.43 a piece in the midday session, up by a modest 0.31%.

The airline will allow customers with any type of ticket to change or cancel their travel through January. JetBlue which, anticipated to fly 6,204 flights and offer nearly one million seats in January before the cuts, will now see fewer flights in the first month of 2022 than it did in December, which had 5,538 flights and 832,942 seats scheduled.

Airline stocks have taken a hit all week amid growing flight disruptions caused by rising COVID-19 cases and winter weather.

“It’s a controlled meltdown, put it that way,” Boyd Group International president Mike Boyd told Yahoo Finance. Airlines “know where they’re going to be short pretty much ahead of time, and then they have to adjust for it.”

9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks charge ahead to extend gains

Here were the main moves in markets at open:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +5.93 (+0.12%) to 4,798.99

  • Dow (^DJI): +103.36 (+0.28%) to 36,591.99

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -8.96 (-0.06%) to 15,757.26

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.23 (+0.30%) to $76.79 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$2.50 (-0.14%) to $1,803.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.6 bps to yield 1.5270%

8:50 a.m. ET: Tesla issues recalls on Model 3 and Model S cars

Tesla Inc (TSLA) has recalled more than 475,000 Model 3 and Model S electric cars, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The recall was attributed to two safety-related concerns, including trunk issues with the vehicles and for Model 3s, rearview cameras mounted on these units that might malfunction.

Shares of Tesla fell as much as 2.2% during Wednesday trading after CEO Elon Musk sold another $1 billion of company stock.

8:30 a.m. ET: Jobless claims hover near pre-pandemic lows

The Labor Department released its latest report on initial and continuing jobless claims. First-time unemployment filings fell further from last week’s reading, coming in at 198,000 — below the expected 206,000. Earlier in December, jobless claims fell to — 188,000 its lowest level since 1969. 

Continuing claims for the week ended Dec. 18 came in at 1.716 million, also beating expectations of 1.875 million and below the prior week.

7:10a.m. ET: Futures remain muted ahead of trading day

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +8.50 points (+0.15%), to 4,793.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +50.00 (+0.14%), to 36,431.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +0.39 points (+0.24%) to 16,529

6:01 p.m. Wednesday ET: Contracts on the S&P, Dow, and Nasdaq open sideways

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +0.50 points (+0.01%), to 4,785.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +3.00 (+0.01%), to 36,384.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -0.25 points (0.00%) to 16,490.25

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

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