* U.S. durable goods orders top expectations
* Market to reopen Thursday after Christmas holiday
* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks scored modest gains
on Tuesday as investors exercised restraint from making big bets
in a short session ahead of the Christmas holiday, with the Dow
and S&P 500 once again ending at record highs.
Markets closed early on Tuesday and will remain shut until
Thursday for the holiday. Trading was extremely light during the
day's abbreviated session, which ended at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).
Many market participants were out of the office on the day
before Christmas. Volume is expected to remain muted throughout
the week and the light trading could allow for greater
Both the Dow and S&P 500 continued to ascend to all-time
highs, with the Dow reaching a record high for the fifth
consecutive session, while the S&P 500's record streak stood at
three days in a row. Further upside may be limited at these
levels, especially in the absence of major trading catalysts.
"What we are seeing is the market heading into the Christmas
holiday extended on a near-term basis, but we are not seeing any
interest in profit taking," said Fred Dickson, chief market
strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
"We may see a little price consolidation across the week and
headed into the New Year."
In the latest positive sign for the economy, data showed
orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods shot up 3.5
percent in November and a gauge of planned business spending on
capital goods marked its largest increase in nearly a year.
A separate report revealed new home sales slipped in
November, but sales in October were revised to show the highest
pace in more than five years and house prices rebounded.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62.94 points or
0.39 percent, to finish at 16,357.55, a record closing high. The
S&P 500 gained 5.33 points or 0.29 percent, to end at
1,833.32, a record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite
added 6.513 points or 0.16 percent, to close at 4,155.417.
The Dow also hit an all-time intraday high at 16,360.60,
while the S&P 500 reached a record intraday high at 1,833.32.
The S&P 500 has soared 28.5 percent this year, largely due
to stimulus measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The index is
on track for its best year since 1997. The Dow is up 24.8
percent in 2013 while the Nasdaq has jumped 37.6 percent for the
The retail sector stayed in focus on the last shopping day
before Christmas. Target Corp's general counsel, Timothy
Baer, spoke with top state prosecutors on Monday to address
their concerns about a massive data breach, as consumer lawsuits
piled up against the discount retailer and two U.S. senators
called for a federal probe. Target's stock slipped 0.3 percent
Walt Disney Co named Twitter Inc co-founder
Jack Dorsey an independent board director. Shares of Disney, a
Dow component, rose 0.8 percent to $73.85 while Twitter surged
8.4 percent to $69.96.
Private equity firm Carlyle Group LP is nearing an
agreement to acquire Johnson & Johnson's ortho clinical
diagnostics unit, four people familiar with the matter said on
Monday, in a deal expected to be worth around $4 billion.
Carlyle Group shares gained 2.1 percent to $36.11. Johnson &
Johnson, a Dow component, edged up 3 cents, or 0.03 percent, to
Volume was light because of the abbreviated session, with
only about 2.17 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges - well
below the 6.43 billion average so far this month, according to
data from BATS Global Markets.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York
Stock Exchange by a ratio of 2 to 1. On the Nasdaq, slightly
more than three stocks rose for every two that fell.