Amazon’s ‘record’ holiday sales helps Nasdaq blow past 9,000

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Amazon’s ‘record’ holiday sales helps Nasdaq blow past 9,000

Amazon’s “record-breaking” holiday season drove the stock up 4.5% on Thursday and helped lift the Nasdaq composite index above 9,000 for the first time ever.

The e-commerce giant led by multibillionaire Jeff Bezos claimed oodles of items were ordered worldwide — leading to a banner holiday sales season that saw a record number of holiday customers sign up for its annual membership program known as Prime.

The Seattle-based company ritually issues a press release touting its sales the day after Christmas without providing dollar amounts or comparable sales data. Still, investors celebrated the news and sent Amazon’s stock to its highest levels since July 30.

The advances pushed Amazon shares up to $1,868.77, and helped the Nasdaq close at 9,022.39, just below the record it reached in intraday trading.

Also joining in the fun was the S&P 500, which climbed 0.5%, to close at 3,239.91, after having touched a new high of 3,240.08 in intraday trading. The Dow Jones industrial average topped out at a record 28,624.10 before giving up a few points to close at 28,621.39 for a 0.4% gain.

“The holiday was all about online retail sales, and that made it all about Amazon,” explained Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.

While Amazon didn’t break out its sales figures, Mastercard said that total US retail sales were up 3.4% between November and Christmas Eve, with the bulk coming from online shopping.

Mastercard’s data, first reported on Dec. 25, said that online retail sales grew 18.8% this year, up from an 18.4% increase last year. Online shoppers spent 17% more on apparel this year than last year, while online electronics sales jumped 11% and jewelry sales rose 8.8%.

Department store sales were the only outlier, sliding 1.8% even though their online sales increased 6.9%, Mastercard said.

There were six fewer shopping days between this Thanksgiving and Christmas, which initially tempered expectations, said CFRA analyst Tuna Amobi.

“But expedited delivery has since tipped the scale. It has proved a real catalyst” — not only for Amazon, which rolled out free one-day shipping in June, but also for Walmart and other merchants rushing to catch up, Amobi said.

Amazon, which has been spending millions to ramp up its own delivery service, said it quadrupled the number of items delivered this season with Prime’s one-day delivery service. Amazon also claimed to help set record holiday sales for independent third-party sellers by shipping out more than 100 million of their items via Prime’s free one-day delivery.

This year’s so-called Santa Claus rally, which has boosted the Nasdaq index by 3.6% and Amazon shares by 2.8% since Thanksgiving, may still have a way to go, said Spartan’s Cardillo.

He cited growing expectations that the White House will sign the first phase of a trade deal with China, as well the US-Mexico trade deal, which has passed the House, and is on the Senate agenda for early 2020.

“These factors look like they could fuel the bull market into the new year,” Cardillo said.