CONSUMER CONFIDENCE DECLINES
In December, the Conference Board’s monthly index fell sharply from its lofty November reading of 128.6. That number was a 17-year high. Economists polled by Bloomberg expected a retreat to 128.0; instead, the gauge dropped to 122.1, which was still one of its best readings in the past 15 years. Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators, noted that consumer expectations remain at “historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018.”
OIL ENDS 2017 ABOVE $60
The yearlong comeback of light sweet crude culminated in a December 29 NYMEX close of $60.42, marking the commodity’s best settlement since the spring of 2015. Signs of reduced output and supply disruptions helped oil rally last week.
HOME PRICES UP 6.2% in 12 MONTHS
That is the conclusion of the October S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, a survey of home values across 20 U.S. regions released last week. In other housing news, the National Association of Realtors pending home sales index rose 0.2% in November, taking its annualized gain to 0.8%. The small advance is understandable; across the 12 months ending in November, existing home inventory thinned by nearly 10%.
A TERRIFIC YEAR FOR EQUITIES CONCLUDES
In 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 25.08%; the S&P 500, 19.42%; the Nasdaq Composite, 28.24%. The year’s last market week saw investors pocketing some gains: across four days, the Dow retreated 0.06% to 24,719.22; the S&P, 0.38% to 2,673.61; the Nasdaq, 0.80% to 6,903.39. The Russell 2000 small-cap benchmark finished 2017 at 1,535.51, rising 13.14% for the year; the CBOE VIX “fear index” lost 21.37% during 2017, wrapping up the year at 11.04.