Getty ImagesTimmy McGovern dressed as Santa Claus walks along the beach passing out candy canes and posing for pictures with beach goers on December 21, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
One day stocks are down. The next day, they’re up.
Today was one of those up days that put the S&P 500 back in the green for the year.
Is that a Santa Claus rally we smell?
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,720.9, +192.6, (+1.1%)
- S&P 500: 2,078.3, +21.8, (+1.1%)
- Nasdaq: 5,107.9, +66.9, (+1.3%)
And now, the top stories on Tuesday:
- The S&P 500 closed 2014 at 2,058.9. That means, with today’s rally the stock market is in the green for the year. Here’s what NYSE floor governor Rich Barry had to say about it in his mid-day email blast: “Perhaps Santa is back to cheer up investors? Our sources on the Street credit short-covering and some end-of-year window-dressing for the bounce on a day with very little volume on the tape. The rebound in oil has not hurt, either. In fact. unless oil falls out of bed, it looks like this second act of the Santa Claus Rally might run through year-end, (or about two more days)”
- Consumer confidence rebounded. The Conference Board’s measure of sentiment jumped to 96.5 in December from 92.6 in November. “Consumer confidence improved in December, following a moderate decrease in November,” The Conference Board’s Lynn Franco said. “As 2015 draws to a close, consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy remains positive, particularly their assessment of the job market. Looking ahead to 2016, consumers are expecting little change in both business conditions and the labour market. Expectations regarding their financial outlook are mixed, but the optimists continue to outweigh the pessimists.”
- …but, economists were quick to note this recovery in this index was at least partially explained by the sharp drop in November from the 99.1 print in October. “We should not read too much into the correction this month – it looks technical,” BNP’s Laura Rosner and Paul Mortimer-Lee said in an email blast. “It may be that the unusually seasonally warm weather is helping to boost confidence beyond what is assumed in the seasonal adjustment (e.g. less spending on utilities leaving more for the fun stuff) … Given that December’s rise appears to be a correction and in light of possible weather effects, it is difficult to read too much into it.”
- Home prices in the US continue to climb. The S&P Case-Shiller 20-city home price index jumped 0.84% month-over-month in October or 5.54% year-over-year. All 20 cities showed monthly gains. “Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the peak-to-current decline for both Composites is approximately 11-13%,” the report said. “Since the March 2012 lows, the 10-City and 20-City Composites have recovered 34.9% and 36.4%.”
- Sure, home prices are rising now. But now that rates are rising, is the housing recovery doomed to top out? Not necessarily. “We expect to see home prices continue to increase at an annualized rate of ~5% on a national basis in 2016, with wages once again playing a very important role in determining the pace of appreciation,” Brean Capital’s Scott Buchta said. “Although interest rates remain a wild card in our forecast, marginally wider credit windows and the increased availability of leverage should help to partially offset the impact of moderately higher rates.”
- In stock-specific news, activist investor Carl Icahn offered $18.50 per share for auto parts retailer Pep Boys. That offer was notably larger than competitor Bridgestone’s offer of $17 per share. Pep Boys’ board has moved to terminate its agreement with Bridgestone and move forward with Icahn.