It’s certainly been a tumulteous first half of the year in the stock market, with signs of upheaval, unexpected downward surprises, and disappointing returns for investors across the board. Worries about how Greece and several other European nations will handle their debt problems, and recent signs of weakness for our own U.S. economy, have certainly weighed in on our markets as of late. In addition, concerns that China’s economy, the world’s second largest and crucial to the commodity markets is now apparently slowing, just adding to the angst.
Stocks started off 2011 on the right foot, as all the major equity indexes finished to the plus side during first week of trading in the New Year.
Stocks turned in another decent year in 2010, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining over 11.06% while the Nasdaq and the smaller-cap stocks as represented by the Russell 2000 jumped 16.92% and 25.3% respectively. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index also had a winning year with a strong 12.82% return. However, for most investors and traders alike, it certainly didn’t feel like a winning year, as it certainly was a roller coaster of a ride, especially through the first part of the year.
It’s definitely that time of the year to be ‘jolly’ given the holiday season and all, and the equity markets have certainly cooperated thus far in 2010. With just five trading days left in the year, stocks are on track to have their best December since 1987. And who would have ever guessed at the beginning of the year that we would be experiencing all the broad market indexes with double-digit gains? Throwing in the extension of the Bush administration’s tax cuts only adds to the holiday cheer as of late.
The equity markets continued to be in the holiday spirit this past week, as stocks celebrated the Christmas holidays along with some much needed good economic news. Although the gains were somewhat muted and on light volume, stocks managed to keep its winning streak alive and finished at its highest close since September 19, 2008. It marked the third-straight weekly win for the stock market, and it reinforced the fact that the Santa Claus Rally is still intact. And, it was definitely the way the bulls wanted to head into final two weeks of trading for 2010.
It was another sort of puzzling but nonetheless bullish week of equity trading this past week, as the week’s modest gains happened to occur amid a whole lot of economic worries and unsettling economic developments. Whether you took into account the fact that oil hit the $90 level for a barrel, or the fact that interest rates continued to climb northward, or the violent protests over in Europe, the stock market continued its northward climb, to leave the Standard & Poor’s 500 index close at its highest level since September of 2008.
What a better way to start the new month of December, as stocks started out the new month with a 3.7% three-day pop that already has some breathlessly hailing December as the new January, and which also wiped out November’s 0.2% decline. And while this past Friday’s employment report disappointed sharply, the bulls were definitely in charge of spin control. The report was either seen as out of sync with other data or is believed to lead to more quantitative easing and fiscal stimulus. Stocks posted notable gains each of the last three trading days, and it was impressive to see the stock
The holiday-shortened trading week of Thanksgiving had most Americans giving thanks for their many blessings over the past year. Unfortunately, for those living in say South Korea had to deal with bombs being lobbed over by their fellow North Korean neighbors. This past week on a global front we also saw the country of Ireland fall to its financial knees, which is the second euro-zone country, after Greece, to call for help in paying its bills. Now there are worries that other countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy may follow suit. European finance ministers are racing to calm the
It was another see-saw week with respect to the equity markets, as the biggest news on the five-day trading week was General Motor’s initial public offering on Thursday, which raised over $18.1 billion in shares. The other action surrounded the Federal Reserve as Ben Bernanke & Co. continued their quantitative easing program, and actually went before Congress to politely defend the Fed’s actions. This came in spite of the raucous criticism of the plan from all corners of academia and giant bond houses like PIMCO.
Stocks continued to sag throughout this past week, with traders once again taking their cues from overseas. On Friday, speculation began heating up that Chinese officials will soon begin to raise interest rates, after the country reported on Thursday that inflation surged to its highest level in more than two years in the month of October. Additionally, news hit the Street that Beijing is attempting to limit foreign investment in commercial real estate.