Energy and utilities provided a boost along with better-than-expected existing home sales for November. Of course, oil rising above $90/barrel for the first time in 2 years can hardly be a considered a positive. Neither can be an anemic GDP growth of 2.6% annualized for the quarter.
None of this appears to matter to the markets as confidence seems to have increased that 2011 will be a much better year economically speaking, which is expected to support higher stock prices.
The big neutralizer will be the stubbornly high unemployment rate despite stronger numbers in manufacturing along with elevated consumer spending. To me, real estate will continue its downward spiral for the simple reason that we’re stuck with this high unemployment number. After all, last time I checked, people buy houses and make mortgage payments with monies earned from real jobs and not from unemployment benefits.
How these positives and negatives will play out next year is anyone’s guess. Stay on top of the trends so you can easily spot reversals and take evasive action via your sell stops, which will help to protect your portfolio from extreme downside risk.