Stocks notch new record highs as market rallies into end of 2019

FAN Editor

Stocks notched fresh records on Friday as year-end optimism continued to drive the rally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 72 points, while the S&P 500 rose 0.1%, on track for its fifth straight week of gains. The Nasdaq Composite was little changed, weighed by a 1.3% drop in Netflix shares. The major averages all hit new intraday highs at the open. Trading volumes are expected to remain light throughout the end of the holiday-shortened week.

A year-end rally in December has already ushered the U.S. equity indexes to historic levels and within reach of the market’s best calendar year in more than two decades.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq topped the 9,000 mark for the first time Thursday, lifted by a jump in Amazon shares on a record holiday shopping season. The Nasdaq has risen for 11 straight days, its longest winning streaking since July 2009.

The S&P 500, up already 29.2% in 2019, is inches away from reaching historic proportions. The benchmark will post its best year since 1997 with an annual gain of more than 29.6%.

“News flow remains relatively quiet, but stocks are extending their melt-up price action into the final days of 2019,” Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, said in a note on Friday.

Investors have been embracing riskier assets ever since the U.S. and China announced they have reached a phase one trade agreement earlier this month. The two sides are in the middle of translating and formalizing the deal. President Donald Trump said Tuesday there will ultimately be a signing ceremony with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, adding a quicker signing will happen soon.

Data overnight showed a solid rebound for industrial profits in China, further boosting sentiment.

“During what has been a very, very quiet week so far this week, the stock market has continued to rally in a slow and steady manner,” Matthew Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note Friday. “Many important stock indexes breaking out…but they’re also getting overbought.”

Friday marks day three of the so-called Santa Claus rally period, which is historically beneficial for stocks. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has rallied an average of 1.3% during the final five trading days of the year and the first two sessions of the new year, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

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