This year's final stock-trading week promises to test investors' temperaments -- whether they take the long view.
Those investors with shorter horizons are likely to welcome the new year with a lot more cheer than their more long-term-minded counterparts.
As the countdown to 2010 begins, the wrap on the last decade in stocks is a gloomy one. Barring an unlikely 30% gain in the next four trading days, the S&P 500 (SPX 1,126, +5.89, +0.53%) is on track to post its first 10-year price drop since the 1930s.
But amidst the inevitable headlines on stocks' "lost decade," a more optimistic view tied to recent gains has emerged, MarketWatch reports.
The U.S. stock market's resiliency since the March bottom has put investors in the mood to celebrate. The trading week will be cut short by the New Year's Day holiday on Friday, when U.S. financial markets will be closed.
The S&P 500 is poised for what could possibly be its best year since 2003 -- in sharp contrast to a year ago, when stocks plummeted in the fallout from the mortgage crisis and panic rocked investors as 2009 got under way.
Even though no "all clear" has been sounded for the U.S. economy, equity strategists said stocks were poised to add to recent gains next week and build a base for a solid start to 2010 as optimism about the recovery grows.
"There's an upward bias," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc, an investment advisory firm, based in Toledo, Ohio. "Economic numbers have been good. It's been an ideal situation for equities as there aren't that many other alternatives. I think the smarter money is going into equities," Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, U.S. stocks rose, pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a 15-month high, as higher commodity prices boosted metal producers and reports showed the economy is improving.
Economic growth in the U.S. is accelerating even more than previously anticipated as business investment picks up and stockpiles fall at a slower pace, according to economists at Morgan Stanley in New York. The economy is poised to grow at a 5.1 percent annual rate from October through December, according to a revised forecast by Morgan Stanley following the Commerce Department’s report on durable goods yesterday. The new estimate is a percentage point higher than their earlier projection, BusinessWeek reports.