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Market Insights / Commentary

Stocks keep hitting new highs

By David Russell

Why wait for Christmas? Santa’s been coming to town for months!

The S&P 500 rose 0.9 percent between Friday, December 8, and Friday, December 15, fueled by a hopes of tax cuts and a continued stream of positive economic news. The index has set new all-time records in 13 of the last 14 weeks.

Retail sales blew past estimates, jobless claims fell more than expected, and the Federal Reserve boosted its 2018 growth forecast while hiking interest rates. Overseas stocking-stuffers included upward revisions in German GDP and new multiyear highs for Japanese manufacturing gauges.

Cryptocurrencies also went mainstream as Bitcoin futures (@XBT) began trading on Cboe. CME launches its own competing contracts today. (@CME). TradeStation, we’re proud to say, is one of only two brokerages to support these futures so far.

Getting back to stocks, Technology was the top sector in the week with a gain of 1.5 percent as momentum buyers returned to this year’s strongest major group. Utilities led to the downside, dropping a similar amount.

CenturyLink (CTL) was the top gainer in the S&P 500, surging 15 percent after holding a 20-year low in late November. Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) followed with a 13 percent gain after runner up after resolving a long-running tax dispute with Indonesia. Is the copper giant, long trapped at a resistance level from 2015, poised for a meltup?

Naysayers looking for a reasons to get bearish didn’t find much. The index’s biggest loser was Garmin (GRMN), with a drop of less than 7 percent. On top of that, only five members hit 52-week lows, while more than 90 hit new highs.

Aside from CME’s Bitcoin launch, housing is the main theme on the calendar. The National Association of Homebuilders’ sentiment index is due today. Tomorrow brings housing starts and building permits, along with FedEx (FDX) and Micron Technology (MU) results after the closing bell. Oil inventories come out Wednesday and are followed the next morning by by jobless claims and the Commerce Department’s final revision to Q3 GDP.

Friday is packed with durable-goods orders, personal income and spending, new home sales and consumer sentiment. But don’t let that fool you because volumes are likely to pretty dead as traders head out for the three-day Christmas weekend.

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