Bear costumeREUTERS/Bogdan CristelA disastrous year for the bears.

Wow. What a year.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,576.5 (+72.2, +0.4%)

  • S&P 500: 1,848.3 (+7.2, +0.4%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,176.5 (+22.3, +0.5%)

And now the top stories:

  • With a whopping 30% return, the S&P 500 just closed its best year since 1997 (It gained 31% that year.). The Dow, which also closed at an all-time high, had its best year since 1995.
  • There was a decent amount of economic data today, and all of it offered a nice cross-section of the U.S. economy.
  • The S&P Case-Shiller home price index climbed in October, registering a 13.6% year-over-year gain. This was the biggest annual increase in prices since February 2006. “However, monthly numbers show we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading,” noted S&P’s David Blitzer.
  • The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence surged to 78.1 in December, up from 72.0 a month ago. “Sentiment regarding current conditions increased to a 5 ½ year high (April 2008, 81.9), with consumers attributing the improvement to more favorable economic and labor market conditions,” noted the Conference Board’s Lynn Franco. “Looking ahead, consumers expressed a greater degree of confidence in future economic and job prospects, but were moderately more pessimistic about their earning prospects. Despite the many challenges throughout 2013, consumers are in better spirits today than when the year began.”
  • The volatile Chicago purchasing manager’s index fell to 59.1 in December, which was a bit lower than the 60.8 reading expected by economists. Still, a reading above 50 signals growth, which means economic activity decelerated slightly in the midwest. “The Chicago Business Barometer finally turned a corner in 2013 having been in decline for the previous two years and ended the year with fourth quarter growth at the highest for more than two years,” said MNI Chicago’s Philip Uglow. “While activity dipped a little in December, businesses continued to report firm growth in Production and New Orders.”
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