News Column

Stocks Look to End 2013 on High Note

December 31, 2013

By Ken Sweet, AP Markets Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Stocks headed higher in early trading Tuesday, as investors closed out their positions on the last day of trading for 2013.

Traders worked through a report that showed U.S. consumer confidence rose far more than expected in December.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,537 in the first 35 minutes of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index futures have gained four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,845 and the Nasdaq composite was up nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,164.

LAST ECONOMIC REPORTS: U.S. consumer confidence rose in December to a reading of 78.1, according to the Conference Board, better than the reading of 76 that economists expected. Consumers' confidence is closely watched because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. Consumer spending is especially important in December when shoppers buy for the holidays.

A STELLAR YEAR: Stock investors were rewarded in 2013 with their best year since the mid-1990s. The S&P 500 is on pace to close up 29 percent for the year, or 32 percent when dividends are included. The Dow is up 26 percent for 2013, and up 29 percent with dividends the index's best year since 1995.

LITTLE ACTIVITY: Unlike most overseas markets, U.S. exchanges will be open for a full day of trading Tuesday. While there may be some last minute buying and selling, most investors have closed their positions for 2013. Volume has been 40 percent lower than average during the last five trading days.

A TARNISHED YEAR FOR GOLD: The price of gold fell $17.20, or 1.4 percent, in $1,186.80 an ounce in early trading. Tuesday's decline is the latest punch in the gut to gold investors. The metal is down 29 percent in 2013, its worst year since 1981.

CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAY: The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq Stock Market, and bond and commodities markets will be closed on New Year's Day. The first day of trading for 2014 will be Thursday, however activity is not expected to pick up until next week.

Original headline: Stocks move higher on last day of 2013


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