Stocks close down, indexes still poised for big annual gains

Wall Street closed lower on Thursday, retreating in thin holiday trading from record highs set early in the session on strong U.S. data including a drop in weekly claims for unemployment benefits.

The Dow finished a quarter of a percent lower. The S&P closed down three tenths of a percent. And the Nasdaq finished down marginally.

With just one trading day left, the S&P 500 was set to end the year more than 27% higher, with the Nasdaq up about 23% for the year and the Dow's annual rise just shy of 20%.

John Vento, president of Comprehensive Wealth Management, said he does not think the "party's quite over yet" for the stock market.

"My view, right now, of the economy is actually very positive. [FLASH] It's my belief that we're about midway through this expansionary process, and I don't think the party's quite over yet. I think 2022 should be a strong year. The only indicator that went a little negative - and it didn't actually go negative, it went cautionary - is wage growth. But, quite simply, what that means is that wage increases have not kept up with the current inflation rate. So I am not overly concerned about that. [FLASH] I would not being pulling my money out of the market just yet. I think we have a good 2022 ahead of us."

In company news, shares of U.S. drugmaker Biogen finished down 7 percent after Samsung BioLogics denied a media report that said it was in talks to buy the company.

Shares of Tesla closed down about a percent and half after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the company is recalling almost half a million electric cars to address safety issues, including a problem with Model S trunks that Tesla said could open "without warning and obstruct the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash."

Shares of Pfizer closed roughly a percent and a half higher after the New York Times reported the FDA plans to authorize booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Investors this week have appeared encouraged by growing evidence that the Omicron variant causes less-severe COVID-19 infections than the Delta variant.

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