Stocks are in rally mode this Christmas week. No one wants to sell so it's putting a floor under prices. Investors shrugged off a disappointing GDP number and applauded stronger home sales. Technology stocks are leading the way with the NASDAQ Composite soaring to new 52-week highs. The U.S. dollar is bouncing and that's putting pressure on gold, which is off almost $8 to $1,088 an ounce. Crude oil is churning sideways near $73.80 a barrel.
Asian markets were mixed. Dollar strength and a weaker yen boosted Japanese exporters. The Japanese NIKKEI index gained 1.9% to set a new three-month high. The Hong Kong Hang Seng also produced a gain with a 0.69% bounce to end a five-day losing streak. The Chinese Shanghai index plunged 2.3% led by losses in property and real estate stocks. Meanwhile in Europe the rally continues. Most of the major bourses closed near 52-week highs. The German DAX gained 0.26%. The English FTSE rose 0.65%. The French CAC-40 rallied 0.68%.
The third-quarter GDP revision out this morning is probably the biggest economic report of the week and yet investors pretty much ignored it. Economists were expecting the revision to remain unchanged with a +2.8% growth rate for the third quarter. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product was revised down to +2.2%. Wall Street probably considers this old news and they're focusing on fourth quarter GDP estimates in the +4% to +5% range.
Offering investors some positive news was the better than expected November home sales figures. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that November home sales soared +7.4% versus estimates for just +2.5%. The seasonally adjusted sales pace rose from 6.09 million in October to 6.54 million. This is the highest level since February 2007. Inventory of unsold homes fell to 3.5 million units or about 6.5 months worth of supply. A normal healthy inventory is usually considered about six months of supply. Unfortunately these figures don't count the "shadow" inventory of bank-owned homes that banks are just sitting on, waiting for the market to improve, before listing them for sale.
Investors should also digest today's home sales report with a grain of salt. The blow-out numbers are due to buyers rushing to complete their sales in November to qualify for the new homebuyer tax credit that was due to expire on November 30th. That tax credit has since been extended but homebuyers were already under contract, which accounts for the big numbers in November. Right now there is no urgency to buy a home and sales will likely slip through the winter months.
At the moment the S&P 500 index is on the verge of breaking out higher. The index actually hit a new 2009 high at 1120.27 this morning. Traders are buying the intraday dip and the S&P 500 is challenging the 1120 level again. Currently the S&P 500 is up 24% on the year making 2009 the best year since 2003 when it was up 26%. The NASDAQ composite is up 0.6% and hitting new 2009 highs over the 2250 level. The Dow Industrials are up about 53 points and trading near 10,466. The small cap Russell 2000 index is up 0.8% and nearing resistance at its September and October highs around the 625 level.
Chart of the S&P 500:
Chart of the NASDAQ:
Chart of the Dow Industrials:
Chart of the Russell 2000 index:
A quick scan of the OptionInvestor.com play list reveals that MTD is breaking out to new highs near $105. PCP is hitting new highs over $115. SF has hit our trigger to buy calls at $58.05. VRTX and WHR are also hitting new 2009 highs.