Stocks have moved sideways for much of December, but is there a catalyst to reignite a Santa rally?
With hopes still pinned to events yet to happen on both sides of the pond, markets are making limited progress.
In the US, the subject of a further fiscal stimulus package remains centre stage, with Congress reportedly inching closer to a $900 billion virus spending package. At the same time, there were supportive noises emanating from the Federal Reserve, who stand ready to continue monetary support until such time as any economic recovery is established.
Meanwhile, oil continued some of its progress, with Brent Crude improving again to stand down by 23% at just below $52 per barrel, a far cry from the low of around $20 at the end of April. Seen as a barometer for global growth, the recent improvement adds further support that an economic return to some kind of normality is emerging on the horizon.
Having nudged ahead to another record closing high, the positive story of the year that is the Nasdaq is now up by 41% in the year to date. With the Dow Jones up by 5.7% and the S&P 500 index 14.5%, the year is heading towards a positive return which will have been against some significant headwinds, and largely driven by optimism for prospects next year.
With the clock ticking on the deadline, hopes for a final breakthrough on Brexit negotiations remain finely balanced. Sterling has seen some benefit from the irrepressible optimism that a last-gasp agreement will be made, although comments from the negotiators on both sides remain guarded.
Even so, the FTSE 100 has continued a strong recent run which has seen the index rise by 18% since the beginning of November. This has in turn improved the year to date performance to a decline of 12.5%, although the influencing presence of several oil and banking stocks have yet to make a positive contribution in improving the number further.
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