U.S. stocks finished higher as the S&P 500 registered a fresh record closing level in the last session of a volatile, holiday-shortened week. Investors tried to shake off omicron concerns as some studies suggested it may be less severe than its brethren, and following additional COVID-19 treatments which were granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization. Despite the ongoing concerns around omicron, inflation, and interest rates, some upbeat economic reports boosted stocks, as jobless claims remain near pre-pandemic lows, durable goods orders came in well above forecasts, consumer sentiment was revised higher, and new home sales hit a seven-month high. Treasuries were lower, lifting yields, and the U.S. dollar ticked lower, while crude oil and gold traded to the upside. In light equity news, Quidel Corp. agreed to purchase Ortho Clinical Diagnostics for $6 billion, and Merck's molnupiravir pill received FDA's emergency use authorization for treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease in adults. Asia and Europe finished broadly higher on the back of gains out of the U.S. yesterday, and as omicron concerns receded.