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Markets Hit Record Highs, Promise Further Growth: 5 Top Picks

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The U.S. stock market notched record highs on Dec 4 and is on track to end the year on a good note as promising COVID-19 vaccine news lifted investors’ sentiment. Moreover, investors have become hopeful that the government will soon pass another round of stimulus package to aid the economy. Notably, the Dow rallied 0.8% to close at a record high of 30,218.26 while the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 closed at all-time highs of 12,464.23 and 3,699.12, respectively. Recently, Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) and BioNTech SE (BNTX - Free Report) announced in a press release that the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the U.K. had granted “a temporary authorization for emergency use for their COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (BNT162b2), against COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, Moderna, Inc. (MRNA - Free Report) also announced in a press release that a primary efficacy analysis of the phase 3 study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed that “vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 was 94.1%; vaccine efficacy against severe COVID-19 was 100%.” The press release further stated that the company would seek emergency use authorization from the FDA and conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency. The availability of the vaccine will mean that the economy, which has been hampered by restrictions, will finally be able to fully open up with activities returning to normalcy.

However, the economy needs further support in order to turn around completely. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 245,000 in November compared to the revised 610,000 jobs added in October. November marked the slowest pace of gain in the last six months highlighting that the pace of recovery in the labor market has moderated over the past few months. Nonetheless, the silver lining is that this should now compel the White House to fast track another round of stimulus aid to help the economy navigate the crisis.

Notably, following the jobs report, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed in a press release, the urgent need for a relief bill to mitigate the crisis. She said that there is an opportunity to do that “by building on the bipartisan framework unveiled on Tuesday by Senators, which was developed with the support of House Members on both sides of the aisle.”

5 Top Stocks

Wall Street is set to end the year higher following record gains on Dec 4. Positive developments with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine along with government efforts to pass another round of fiscal stimulus at the earliest should help the economy to recover. This, in turn, will aid the stock market since its performance is connected to the performance of the economy. Hence, it will be judicious to invest in stocks that can make the most of this uptrend and are expected to deliver positive earnings growth in the near term. Notably, we have handpicked five such stocks that carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Meta Financial Group, Inc. (CASH - Free Report) operates as the holding company for MetaBank that offers various banking products and services in the United States. It operates through three segments, namely, Consumer, Commercial, and Corporate Services/Other. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 13.4% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 29.2%.

Cabot Corporation (CBT - Free Report) operates as a specialty chemicals and performance materials company in the United States. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 21.4% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 58.2%.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (CTB - Free Report) , along with its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, markets and sells replacement tires in the United States. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased more than 100% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 55.5%.

California Water Service Group (CWT - Free Report) , through its subsidiaries, provides water utility and other related services in California, Washington, New Mexico, and Hawaii. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 25.5% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 35.1%.

Forestar Group Inc. (FOR - Free Report) operates as a residential lot development company in the United States. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 38.1% over the past 60 days. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 34.7%.

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