Stocks and exchange traded funds are up in light, pre-holiday trading today. Since 1900, the Dow Industrial Average has been up 70% of the time on Christmas Eve. 

Markets were buoyed this morning by a pair of positive economic reports. New orders for durable manufactured goods excluding transportation surged 2% in November and applications for jobless benefits fell last week, report Lucia Mutikani and Emily Kaiser for Reuters. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 28,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 452,000 last week, the lowest level since early September 2008.

In the early hours of this morning, the U.S. Senate voted 60-39 to pass a landmark health care bill. The health care bill would provide coverage to more 30 million Americans and begin a far-reaching overhaul of Medicare and the private insurance market, reports Shailagh Murray for The Washington Post . [For more stories on the healthcare sector, please see our health-care category.]

In the run-up to the vote, HMO stocks have been very strong in the past few months. The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Health Care Providers Index (NYSE: IHF) is up slightly today and is sitting just below its 52-week high. [For more stories on sector ETFs, please see our sector ETFs category.]

The Senate also voted today to raise the ceiling on government debt to $12.4 trillion, a big increase over the current limit. President Barack Obama has pledged to address this issue next year, reports the Associated Press.

Tony D’Altorio contributed to this article.

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