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The Markets This Week

December 28, 2016 | Weekly Commentary

Stocks inched higher this week, but investors are still waiting for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to breach 20,000.

Yes, it almost got there. Last Tuesday, the Dow came within 13 points of that elusive round number, but it finished the week just short at 19,933.81, up 90.40 points, or 0.5%—marking its seventh straight week of gains. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index to 2263.79, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.5%, to 5462.69.

It was probably too much to expect fireworks from the Dow this week. With the long Christmas weekend looming, trading all but dried up. On Friday, the Dow traded in a range of just 35.09 points, the smallest since Dec. 30, 2013, and the rest of the week wasn’t much more exciting. On Friday, just 3.98 billion shares traded hands, the lightest volume on a full trading day since Dec. 26, 2014.

It’s also perfectly reasonable—and not just because most of us were looking ahead to the holidays. The Dow has gained nearly 10% since the end of October, more than double its 4.1% rise during the first nine months of the year, spurred in part by Donald J. Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The pause “makes some sense given how much the market has run,” says Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede. “But 20,000 is a clearable number.”

Eminently so, and don’t be surprised if it happens as early as next week. Historically, the last week of the year has been a nice gift to investors. Since 1928, the S&P 500 has gained 1.14 percentage points during the last five trading days of the year, notes Cornerstone Macro technical analyst Carter Worth, well above the average 0.14-point rise for all five-day periods. “The odds are high” that the last days of the year will “play out well,” he observes. And if they do, we won’t have to wait for 2017 to witness Dow 20,000.

(Source: Barrons Online)

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