Investment year ends on quiet note

Investors will be looking for a relatively quiet time in Toronto and on Wall Street as another holiday-shortened week closes out the final two trading days of 2013 and kicks off the first two in 2014.

Investors will be looking for a relatively quiet time in Toronto and on Wall Street as another holiday-shortened week closes out the final two trading days of 2013 and kicks off the first two in 2014.

It’s expected that there will be low volumes on all the exchanges, as many traders will still be away on vacation enjoying a winter break.

Senior investment adviser Allan Small said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the “Santa Claus rally” continue until the end of the year. Typically, stock markets can climb during the holiday season, and pull back once the new year begins.

But after that phase is over, it’s anybody’s guess where the markets will go.

“Overall, my concern isn’t next week — it’s for the year,” said Small of the Allan Small Financial Group with HollisWealth.

“For the most part, everyone has been saying that this market has gotten too far, too fast, . . . because the economic data wasn’t matching it. But now… for those questioning the market’s run-up, we’re starting to see the data back it up.”

He said most analysts agree that the indexes are not likely to continue their rapid advance in 2014.

“My fear, or my hesitation, is what do we do next? What does the market need to see to go to the next level?”

Small said there could be a pullback in early 2014.

“Nothing huge but it could be a nice healthy pullback in the market, which would be eventually bought again by the dips sort of mentality. I think the market will move higher but not as near as it did last year.”

The TSX ended up 1.4 per cent higher for the week while the Dow advanced 1.6 per cent. The showing left the Toronto market up 9.81 per cent for the year while the Dow has charged ahead 25.8 per cent.

The markets continue to digest the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision last week to start reducing its monetary stimulus by $10 billion, to $75 billion a month, starting in January.

The move ended some uneasiness among traders after months of speculation on when the stimulus might be rolled back.

But the U.S. central bank has said that despite the cut, short-term rates weren’t going up from near zero any time soon.

The monthly bond buyback program from the Fed has helped buoyed markets and kept long-term rates low, but the bank said it can’t stay in place forever as signs of strength in the U.S. economy continue to emerge.

No major economic releases or corporate earnings are scheduled in Canada this week.

In the U.S., the latest figures on consumer confidence will be released on Tuesday. Gauges on consumer spending are always watched carefully because they can be a strong sign of how the economy is doing. Consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 per cent of overall U.S. economic activity.

Also on Tuesday, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index for the U.S. will be released, along with the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, which is a key reading for manufacturing in the U.S. Midwest.

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