Stocks rise to record highs in 2013 - The Buffalo News
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Stocks rise to record highs in 2013

Stock indexes rose to records in 2013, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index posting its biggest annual advance since 1997, as gains in consumer confidence and housing prices bolstered confidence in the world’s largest economy.

The S&P 500 added 0.4 percent to 1,848.36. The equities benchmark jumped 30 percent in 2013, ending the year at an all-time high for the first time since 1999. The Dow Jones industrial average increased 72.37 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,576.66, also a record. About 4.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 24 percent below the three-month average. U.S. stock markets are closed today.

“It’s been a terrific year, and people should be very satisfied about how the market has reacted,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners LLC, which manages $4.5 billion. “You can question it all you want if there was enough reasoning behind the 30 percent gain. Lots of things went on this year, but you’re starting to tack this one on and put it in the book and be thankful.”

The S&P 500 gained 2.4 percent in December, its fourth straight monthly advance. The gauge climbed 3.7 percent from Dec. 13 through Dec. 27, its biggest two-week rally since July, as the Federal Reserve announced plans to reduce the pace of bond buying amid faster-than-estimated economic growth. Three rounds of Fed stimulus have sent the S&P 500 up 173 percent from a 12-year low in 2009.

The Dow rallied 27 percent this year, its best performance since 1995. International Business Machines Corp. is the only member of the 30-stock gauge that declined, even as the world’s largest provider of computing services boosted its dividend and added about $20 billion to its buyback plan.

Asset purchases by the Bank of Japan and the Fed have supported the global economy and helped to increase the market value of world stocks by $9.5 trillion this year. Speculation over a reduction in bond buying whipsawed financial markets after May 22, when Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke first indicated cuts to the central bank’s stimulus program could start this year. The S&P 500 advanced 12 percent since then.

This year’s rally in stocks sent the S&P 500’s valuation up more than 20 percent to 17.4 times reported earnings, the highest since 2010.

Netflix Inc. soared 298 percent in 2013 for the biggest gain in the S&P 500, as the world’s largest video-subscription company reported earnings that surged more than analysts forecast. Micron Technology Inc. rallied 243 percent, making it the second-best performer. The chipmaker is projected to return to a profit in the fiscal year ending in August. Best Buy Co. climbed 237 percent, rebounding after a 49 percent drop in 2012.

Newmont Mining Corp. plunged 50 percent for the biggest annual loss in the S&P 500. The price of gold fell 28 percent in 2013, its biggest decline in three decades. Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the second-worst performer in the index, lost 32 percent.

Equity returns will slow next year, Wall Street strategists forecast. The S&P 500 will end 2014 at 1,950, according to the average of 20 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That represents a 5.5 percent gain over the next 12 months.

“I don’t think the market is overvalued, but will it continue this nice smooth ascent with almost no volatility?” said Tobias M. Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup Inc. “We will see a more volatile year that might scare off some investors, which might be good. Sentiment is getting way too positive. It’s beyond complacency.”

Valero Energy Corp. advanced 3.6 percent to $50.40 and Marathon Petroleum Corp. added 3.7 percent to $91.73 for the largest gains in the S&P 500. Tesoro Corp. rallied 3.5 percent to $58.50 for the index’s third-biggest increase.

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