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Market Indexes Drift Higher to Start Last Week of 2021

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Monday, December 27, 2021

We emerge from our weekend Christmas holiday with pre-market futures drifting upward, in something perhaps resembling a Santa Claus Rally, though it’s too early to tell. The S&P 500, after all, reached a new all-time closing high on last Thursday’s half-day session. Currently, the Dow and Nasdaq are both roughly +80 points ahead of today’s opening bell, while the S&P is +20 points.

Already we’re seeing retail sales numbers from the 2021 holiday season, and they are strong: +8.5% year over year over the period from November 1st to Christmas Eve, last Friday, December 24th. This is not including October shopping, which is instructional this year based on supply chain concerns, which pulled much of these retail sales a bit earlier.

In-store shopping grew +8.1% year over year, which is impressive — although consider 2020 holiday shopping was ravaged by pre-vaccination Covid, which diminished foot traffic for retailers across the country. Even more impressive was online sales during 2021 holiday season, which rose +11%, even with retail shops open for the most part this year. Total holiday sales that came from online purchases this season reached +21%.

This week, gift exchanges, gift card usage and perhaps even discount prices will be the narrative into the new year. Apparel has led the way so far in holiday shopping, +47% year over year, followed by +32% in jewelry sales (perhaps suggesting a boost in consumer confidence?) and +16% in electronics.

There are no major economic reports hitting the tape today, but this week — markets will be open for trading this Friday, New Year’s Eve, though the Zacks offices will be closed in observance of New Year’s Day — we expect new reads for Advance Trade in Goods, Case-Shiller Home Price Index and, as always, Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims. Next week gets far busier, as we’ll see new monthly jobs reports from both ADP (ADP - Free Report) and the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, a little scorecard peek may be in order: the Dow grew +1.6% over the past five trading days, and +2.3% over the past month. Year to date, the blue-chip index is +19%. The S&P, which set a new all-time high last week, is +2.2% in the five-day, +1.5% in the past month, and +27.7% year to date, outpacing the other indexes. The Nasdaq, while up a strong +3.8% in the past five days, is actually down -0.8% in the past month and +23.3% year to date.

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