U.S. stocks end 2016 with strong gains from last year

NEW YORK, Dec. 30 (UPI) — The top U.S. stock indices closed out 2016 with strong gains from last year despite moving lower on the last day of trading Friday in New York.

For the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 13.5 percent, the highest increase since 2013. The Dow finished just under the 20,000 milestone at 19,763 after hitting a record high of 19,988 on Dec. 20. On Friday the index of 30 blue chips declined 57.18 points.

The SP 500 closed with a gain of 9.4 percent for the year to end at 2,238.83, a 10.43 points drop from Thursday’s close. The Nasdaq finished the year with a gain of 7.5 percent at 5,383.12, a decline of 48.97.

In light trading, the information technology sector led the declines, dropping 1 percent Friday, including Apple, Microsoft and Intel.

The top sector this year was energy, which was up 23.4 percent, follow by financials at 19.1 percent and telecommunications services at 17.1 percent.

Health care was the only sector at close the year down — 4.2 percent — as President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-dominated Congress vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

Earlier in the year, the stock market was hurt by a recession scare, Brexit and the U.S. presidential campaign. But stocks have rallied 8 percent since Trump’s election on Nov. 8.

“U.S. equities are ending 2016 in a reasonably good position,” Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, wrote in an email to CNBC. “Prices have been remarkably resilient throughout the year, overcoming early-year weakness and ongoing uncertainty to end the year near all-time highs; the U.S. economy appears to be in a Goldilocks zone; and earnings are on the cusp of increasing.”

The Dow industrial have nearly tripled since the financial crisis when it hit a low of 6547.05 in March 2009, two months after Barack Obama took office.

“Now comes the hard part,” said Lew Piantedosi, portfolio manager at Eaton Vance, told The Wall Street Journal. “What are these policies actually going to look like? That’s where the true uncertainty lies.”

U.S. crude oil is now at $53.72 a barrel, up 45 percent in 2016 and its best year since 2009.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show crude oil inventories in the United States increased 614,000 barrels last week.

The Federal Reserve didn’t raise interest rates until Dec. 14 for the first time since the end of 2015.
The target is half to three-quarters percent and the Fed plans to increase rates by another three quarters of a point in three stages in 2017.


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