How about some good economic news to finish the year? Although new U.S. jobless claims came in at 381,000, up from 366,000 the prior week, the four-week moving average fell to 375,000 last week. That means that fewer Americans filed for jobless benefits during the past month than at any time in the past three years.
Even the beleaguered housing industry had some good news: Pending home sales rose 7.3 percent in November, which puts them at their highest level in 19 months. The National Association of Realtors said its pending sales index is now up to 100.1 in November, where 100 signifies the market as it existed in 2001.
All this helped the S&P 500 climb 1.1 percent on Thursday, leaving it up 0.4 percent for the year. The S&P closed 2010 at 1258, and opens today at 1263 – adding a grand total of five points over the course of the year.