Dow, S&P 500 wrap 2020 with records, Tesla crosses $700 level

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is pictured on March 16, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. - Trading on Wall Street was halted immediately after the opening bell March 16, 2020, as stocks posted steep losses following emergency moves by the Fe

U.S. stocks wrapped a wild 2020 with a basket of records even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scuttled increasing the size of stimulus checks to $2,000.

McConnell wants the upsized checks to be tied to several of President Trump's priorities, including a repeal of Section 230 liability protections for online platforms and an investigation into election security.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was trading higher by 86 points, or 0.28%, while the S&P 500 was up 0.25% and the Nasdaq Composite was flat.

With one trading day to go this year, the Dow had advanced 6.56%, the S&P 500 had climbed 16% and the Nasdaq Composite had soared 43%.

The major averages will remain open for a full day of trading with record highs in reach for all three of the major averages.

Initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell to 787,000 in the week ended Dec. 26. from an upwardly revised 806,000. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting the total of first-time unemployment filings to rise by 30,000 to 833,000. Continuing claims, meanwhile, fell to 5.219 million versus the 5.39 million that analysts were anticipating.

Looking at stocks, Exxon Mobil Corp. plans to take a $20 billion write-down, mostly on natural gas properties, the company said in a regulatory filing out Wednesday. The oil major, which also noted gains in its chemical and oil businesses, had previously expected a write-down of $17 billion to $20 billion.

In deals, Tribune Publishing Co. received a takeover bid from its largest shareholder, hedge fund Alden Global Capital. The deal would pay shareholders $14.25 per share, valuing Tribune at $520.6 million. Alden already owns 32% of the publisher.

Elsewhere, Tesla Inc. and Walt Disney Co. hit record highs. Shares of the electric-vehicle maker have soared 730% this year through Wednesday while the entertainment giant has rallied 25%.

Enphase Energy Inc. will be added to the S&P 500 beginning on Jan. 7, replacing Tiffany & Co. which is being bought by French luxury goods maker LVMH.

Looking at commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 35 cents to $47.85 per barrel and gold advanced $9 to $1,902.40 an ounce.

European markets were lower across the board with Britain’s FTSE 100 down 1.45%, Germany’s DAX 30 weaker by 0.31% and France’s CAC 40 down 0.86%.

In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite index surged 1.72%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.31% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 slid 0.45%.