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Ahead of Wall Street

Thursday, January 2, 2014

(This is Mark Vickery covering for Sheraz Mian for the remainder of the week.)

We've spent much of the past week -- or at least I have -- looking both forward and back at more of a wider scope for the market and the economy. How far we've come and where we're headed; it's a pretty natural conceit around the changing of a new year.

Especially when 2013 was such a good one for investors. Nay, 2013 was a great year -- or it should have been. Ask any subscribers to our Zacks Trading Services, and it's very likely they'd be singing the praises of the past 12 months regarding their investment portfolios.

Can it continue, though? Sure, economic strengthening looks positive on a wider scale for the coming year, but the markets are a forward indicator, and gains we see early on in the new year may be already baked into the cake. Many analysts expect a pullback, if not a correction, in the general market this year. So what's an investor to do at this place and time?

Let's start slowly, and ratchet in our focus. One day at a time. We can start today, with new jobless claims: down 2000 from an upwardly-revised 341K last week. The 4-week moving average has jumped over the 350K threshold for the first time in awhile, but continuing claims are down about 100K, which is a good sign.

In corporate news, Fiat has announced it will buy the remaining 41.5% of Chrysler it does not currently own from the UAW healthcare trust. Full ownership should help clarify what, where and how much Fiat and CEO Sergio Marchionne will develop in the coming year and beyond. Macy's (M - Analyst Report) and Martha Stewart Living (MSO - Snapshot Report) have ended their dispute, but details are forthcoming. It appears JC Penney (JCP - Analyst Report) is not part of the settlement.

The second train crash in the past few months moving trainloads of oil and gas from North Dakota's Bakken shale region is beginning to clear the throats of energy pipeline advocates, especially those in favor of completing the Keystone pipeline. Expect to hear more about this billion-dollar potential of developments here in the coming weeks. And 1.3 million Americans receiving emergency unemployment insurance have been cut off as of the first of the year, potentially giving grist to the mill for another political debate on the federal level.

There's obviously a lot of the new year ahead. Good things are bound to happen, but let's make sure to keep our eyes and ears open. Happy New Year!

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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