Stocks closed out the year on a mostly positive note, adding to the year’s gains as concerns about the economic issues of Omicron infections receded.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.08%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 picked up 0.85%. The Nasdaq Composite index was flat (-0.05%) for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, posted an increase of 0.80%.1,2,3
Stocks Notch Record Highs
The end of the year is historically a strong period for stocks–a seasonal pattern dubbed “The Santa Claus Rally.” This year’s final week of trading did not disappoint as stocks posted healthy gains to kick off the week, despite a global increase in Omicron infections. Investors were buoyed by data that showed fewer associated hospitalizations, which helped ease fears of the variant’s economic impact.
The S&P 500 set multiple fresh record highs, with Wednesday’s new high representing the 70th such high in 2021, while the Dow Industrials recorded its first new record since November. Stocks drifted on low trading volume in the final two trading days of the year, capping a good week, a solid month, and a strong year for investors.4
Robust Holiday Sales
The market got off to a good start last week in part due to a strong holiday sales report. A major credit card issuer reported that consumer holiday spending rose 8.5% from last year’s levels, driven by an 11.0% gain in online sales. It was the biggest annual increase in 17 years. The spending by consumers exceeded pre-pandemic sales by 10.7%. The retail categories that experienced the highest sales increases were apparel (+47.3%) and jewelry (+32.0%).5
It was a particularly robust number in view of investor concerns about supply chain disruptions, port congestion, labor shortages, and wavering consumer confidence.
This Week: Key Economic Data
Tuesday: JOLTS (Job Openings and Turnover Survey). Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
Thursday: Jobless Claims. Factory Orders. Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Non- Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
Friday: Employment Situation.
Source: Econoday, December 31, 2021
This Week: Companies Reporting Earnings
Thursday: Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ), Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA), Conagra Brands (CAG).
Source: Zacks, December 31, 2021
Military Members and Their Families Can Receive Free Tax Advice
The IRS started the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide free tax advice, preparation, return filing help, and other assistance to military members and their families. This also includes specific tax advice for military members on topics such as combat zone tax benefits, special extensions, and other special rules. VITA has convenient locations on and off base and even has offices overseas.
These offerings are just one way the IRS is striving to make tax information available to all. It also offers other free assistance programs to taxpayers who qualify, including the elderly, through its Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program.
* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.
Tip adapted from militaryonesource.mil6
"The information contained above is illustrative, provided for educational and informational purposes only, does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell a security. It does not take into account any investor's particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status or investment horizon. You should consult your attorney or tax advisor."
Footnotes and Sources
2. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2021
3. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2021
4. CNBC, December 29, 2021
5. CNBC, December 27, 2021
6. militaryonesource.mil, June 1, 2021
7. Active, June 24, 2021
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