Benchmarks rallied after President Barack Obama and John Boehner made encouraging comments about reaching an agreement on the “fiscal cliff” dilemma. Federal Reserve’s released its latest “Beige Book” reports which revealed that the U.S. economy grew at a “measured pace”. Meanwhile, U.S. new home sales declined in October. The consumer discretionary sector was the major gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) jumped 0.8% to close the day at 12,985.11. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) gained 0.8% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1,409.93. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.8% to end at 2,991.78. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) dropped 2.6% to settle at 15.51. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 6.1 billion shares, significantly lower than the daily average of 6.48 billion shares. Advancing stocks easily outpaced decliners on the NYSE; as for 67% stocks that rose, only 29% stocks moved lower.
Yesterday’s trading began with a negative domestic report amid concerns over ongoing the fiscal cliff issue which has now been affecting markets for months. In the early part of trading, the blue-chip index lost as much as 112 points. But the markets rebounded from their initial losses after Barack Obama and John Boehner made positive comments about the fiscal cliff dilemma, which boosted investor sentiment.
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner said he is hopeful that a deal could be reached about the fiscal cliff. He also said policy makers which are involved in the fiscal cliff negotiations can “avert this crisis sooner rather than later”. President Barack Obama also made encouraging statements about the fiscal cliff of $600 billion which will take effect from the beginning of 2013. Obama said: “My hope is to get this done before Christmas”.
Meanwhile, President Obama met business leaders on Wednesday to discuss the fiscal cliff dilemma. After the meeting Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein said Obama’s plan to reach a deal on the impending fiscal cliff is very specific. He also said a modest increase in tax rates may have to be done to strike a deal. In an interview with CNBC after the meetings with Obama and business leaders Blankfein said it is difficult to say whether a deal could he reached or not but “if I were involved in a negotiation like this, and everybody was purporting to be where they are, I would say that an agreement was reachable”.
The Federal Reserve released its latest Beige Book on November 28 which noted that U.S. economic increased at a “measured pace” in October and in the early part of November. According to the reports, economic activity improved in nine out of the twelve Federal Reserve’s districts. New York, Philadelphia and Boston posted weaker growth as these areas were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Consumer spending increased moderately whereas the manufacturing sector reported mixed results in most of the districts. Except Boston and Philadelphia, conditions of single-family homes continued to improve. Hiring picked up in most of the districts.
Separately, U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported new home sales data which noted a decline in U.S. home sales in October. According to the report, sales of new single-family houses decreased 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000 in October from the revised September figure of 369,000. This was below the consensus estimates of 388,000. The September figure was sharply revised down to 369,000 from 389,000.
Coming to sectoral stocks, The Consumer Discretionary SPDR (XLY) gained 1.3% and was the major gainer among S&P 500 industry groups. Stocks such as Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M) and Saks Inc (NYSE:SKS) surged 0.4%, 6.3%, 1.5%, 1.8% and 4.1%, respectively.