Weekly Market Recap – December 22, 2023

The major U.S. stock indexes failed to replicate the robust results of the previous week, but their moderate gains were enough to secure the market’s eighth consecutive positive week. For the S&P 500, this marked its lengthiest such streak since November 2017, concluding Friday just 0.9% below its record closing high on January 3, 2022.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred measure for tracking inflation recorded a negative month-to-month reading for the first time since April 2020, bringing inflation closer to the Fed’s 2.0% long-term target rate. On an annual basis, prices, including volatile food and energy categories, increased by 2.6% in November from the same month a year earlier; compared to October, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index edged down 0.1%.

U.S. small-cap stocks continued to outperform their large-cap counterparts significantly for the second consecutive week, propelling the Russell 2000 Index to a weekly gain of almost 3%. Although the index lags behind its large-cap peers year to date, it has surged over 24% since a recent low on October 27.

After four consecutive months of declines, a survey of U.S. consumers showed a robust rebound in sentiment about the economy. The University of Michigan reported that its December sentiment reading rose to 69.7 from 61.3 in the previous month, reflecting increased optimism among consumers that inflation will ease.

The U.S. government’s final estimate of third-quarter economic growth was slightly scaled back but still indicated robust expansion. GDP for the third quarter came in at an annual rate of 4.9%, compared to the 5.2% figure reported in an estimate made a month earlier. The final growth rate was the fastest in nearly two years.

Analysts anticipate a modest decrease in fourth-quarter earnings growth from the third-quarter numbers reported in the November-concluded earnings season. As of December 18, analysts expected S&P 500 companies to report average earnings growth of 2.4% for the fourth quarter, down from the third quarter’s 4.9% figure, according to FactSet. Overall, full-year earnings growth in 2023 is projected to rise 0.6% from 2022.

U.S. companies increased their share buybacks slightly faster in the third quarter of 2023 than in the second quarter. Share repurchases by S&P 500 companies totaled nearly $186 billion, up 6% from the prior quarter’s $175 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. However, buybacks were down 12% compared to the third quarter of 2022.

The final week of 2023 is expected to be light in terms of economic reports. However, a report on home prices will be released on Tuesday, followed by Thursday’s releases on pending home sales and unemployment claims. In the first week of 2024, watch for the government’s monthly employment report to come out on Friday, January 5.

Major U.S. Economic Reports

Home builder confidence indexDec.3734
Housing startsNov.1.56 million1.36 million
Building permitsNov.1.46 million1.5 million
U.S. current accountQ3-$200.3B-$216.8B
Existing home salesNov.3.82 million3.79 million
Consumer confidenceDec.110.0102.0
Initial jobless claimsDec. 16205,000203,000
GDP (revision)Q34.9%5.2%
Philadelphia Fed manufacturing surveyDec.-10.5-5.9
U.S. leading economic indicatorsNov.-0.5%-1.0%
Durable-goods ordersNov.5.4%-5.1%
Durable-goods minus transportationNov.0.5%-0.3%
Personal incomeNov.0.4%0.2%
Personal spendingNov.0.2%0.2%
PCE indexNov.-0.1%0.0%
Core PCE indexNov.0.1%0.2%
PCE (year-over-year)2.6%2.9%
Core PCE (year-over-year)3.2%3.3%
New home salesNov.590,000672,000
Consumer sentiment (final)Dec.69.769.4

Closing Prices for the Week

Dow Jones Industrials Average37,385.97
Nasdaq Composite14,992.97
S&P 500 Index4,754.63
CBOE Volatility Index13.03
S&P GSCI543.72
U.S. Dollar Index101.698
10-Year T-Note (Mar ’24)112-190
Crude Oil WTI (Feb ’24)73.56
Natural Gas (Feb ’24)2.490
Gold (Feb ’24)2,069.1
Silver (Mar ’24)24.565
Corn (Mar ’24)473-0
Wheat (Mar ’24)616-2
Soybean (Mar ’24)1306-2
Coffee (Mar ’24)192.80
Sugar #11 (Mar ’24)20.62

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