Wall St closes out ’09 with best gains since 2003

–(www.FinancialNewsUSA.com)– 01/02/2010 – Most Popular industry news provided by Financial News USA. U.S. stocks ended 2009 on Thursday with their best gains since 2003, driven by optimism about the economy’s recovery and a brighter outlook for profits.

The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 23.5 percent for the year, while the Dow climbed 18.8 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 43.9 percent from its close on December 31, 2008.

It was the market’s first annual advance in two years. In 2008, the S&P 500 slid 38.5 percent when the economic crisis led to Wall Street’s worst year since the Great Depression.

For Thursday’s session alone, though, U.S. stocks declined, with a late-day sell-off pushing all three major indexes down about 1 percent as investors sold some of the year’s best-performing stocks to lock in some of 2009’s substantial gains. [Read the full article]

Few analysts forecast this year’s remarkable stock market rebound as major indexes were plunging to 12-year lows last March. Now, with most experts predicting the pace of stocks’ gains will slow in 2010, there’s reason to believe they will be proven correct.

Stocks began the dramatic turnaround in March after Citigroup Inc. and other big banks said they were making money again, and then climbed at a fairly steady pace as signs of an economic recovery from the Great Recession became more pronounced.

Investor fears about a potential financial system collapse played a big role in the early year slump in stocks. Once it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index roared back 64.8 percent from its early March low, the biggest move since the Depression. [Read the full article]

A.W. “Bill” Jones III had an eye for the finer things. After taking over his family’s sprawling golf resort on Sea Island, Ga., in 1992, he toured America’s top clubs for a sense of what the competition had to offer. Soon Sea Island Co.’s clubhouse locker rooms boasted antique wood beams, overstuffed couches, fireplaces, libraries, and mounted game from Jones’ hunting trips to Africa.

Had his ambition ended there, Sea Island Co. might still be profitable. But Jones was just getting started. In 2001 he launched a plan to turn his sleepy island retreat into the Pebble Beach of the East, a playground for the global elite. He would rebuild Sea Island’s Cloister Hotel and beach club in five-star splendor, replete with fine dining, a luxury spa, squash courts, koi ponds, and, overlooking all the action, high-end condos. The project’s price tag quickly swelled to $500 million, but getting the money wouldn’t be a problem. [Read the full article]

Reuters – A trader pauses to view price monitors on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange just before …

U.S. stocks closed out 2009 with the best performance in six years, but monthly employment figures in the first week of the new year will keep investors focused on what is likely to be 2010’s reality — the economy’s struggle to recover.

On the data front, the main event will be Friday’s report from the Labor Department on U.S. non-farm payrolls in December. Economists polled by Reuters have forecast that payrolls shed 20,000 jobs in the final month of 2009, compared with just 11,000 lost in November.

The Institute for Supply Management’s report on manufacturing, due on Monday, is expected to show the ailing sector was still slow to expand in December, while a projected drop in November pending home sales, due on Tuesday, will underscore the housing market’s shaky recovery. [Read the full article] About Financial News USA

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