US STOCKS-Wall St inches up in short session, indexes at records

miércoles 24 de diciembre de 2014 12:13 GYT

* Initial jobless claims fall for fourth straight week

* Biotech shares rebound after sharp two-day decline; energy falls

* Equity markets close at 1 p.m. in holiday-shortened session

* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 percent, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct (Updates to midday trading)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P 500 at records and on track for a sixth straight daily advance as biotech stocks rallied and data pointed to improving economic conditions.

The day's action was light, with many market participants already out for the Christmas holiday. The stock market will close three hours early on Wednesday and will be closed all of Thursday.

Equities have been on a hot streak of late, with the Dow closing above 18,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday. The S&P 500 is up 5.7 percent over the past six sessions and is on track for its 52nd record close of this year, the most since 1995 and the fourth best in history.

Those gains have come on central bank assurances and improving economic data, a trend that continued with jobless claims on Wednesday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000, their fourth straight week of declines, and below the forecast of 290,000.   Continuación...