LIVE MARKETS Bulls bound ahead

  • Major U.S. indexes slightly red; Nasdaq off ~0.3%
  • Chips, transports edge up; FANG Index off ~0.9%%
  • Comm svcs weakest major S&P sector; real estate leads gainers
  • Dollar, crude, bitcoin lower; gold rises
  • U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield slips to ~1.50%

Dec 31 - Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of markets brought to you by Reuters reporters. You can share your thoughts with us at markets.research@thomsonreuters.com

BULLS BOUND AHEAD (1217 EST/1717 GMT)

Individual investor optimism about the short-term direction of the stock market jumped in the last week of 2021 according to the latest American Association of Individual Investors Sentiment Survey (AAII). With this, fewer investors described their outlook for stocks as “bearish.”

AAII reported that bullish sentiment, or expectations that stock prices will rise over the next six months, surged 8.1 percentage points to 37.7%, to a six-week high. That said, optimism remains below its historical average of 38.0% for the sixth consecutive week.

Bearish sentiment, or expectations that stock prices will fall over the next six months, fell 3.3 percentage points to 30.5%. Pessimism was last lower on November 18, 2021 (27.2%). Bearish sentiment currently matches its historical average of 30.5%.

Neutral sentiment, or expectations that stock prices will stay essentially unchanged over the next six months, declined 4.8 percentage points to 31.8%. Neutral sentiment is above its historical average of 31.5% for the fourth consecutive week.

AAII noted that since falling to an unusually low level of 25.2% two weeks ago, bullish sentiment has rebounded by a cumulative 12.4 percentage points. The improvement occurred as the S&P 500 index (.SPX) rose to new highs, and the Russell 2000 (.RUT) index rallied.

With these changes, the bull-bear spread rose to +7.2 from -4.3 last week read more :

AAII12312021

(Terence Gabriel)

*****

OUT WITH A WHIMPER (1023 EST/1523 GMT)

U.S. stocks paused on Friday, after a recent rally put Wall Street's main indexes on pace to finish the year with handsome gains driven by massive stimulus, vaccine rollouts, and strong retail participation.

Indeed, the main U.S. indexes are virtually flat in the early throes of the last trading day of the year. With this, a majority of major S&P 500 (.SPX) sectors are showing net changes ranging from -0.1% to +0.1% on the day.

Meanwhile, volume across all U.S. exchanges for the week now stands at just over 33 billion shares, putting it on track for the slowest share turnover since the week ending February 21, 2020.

Still, the SPX is on track to rise just over 27% for the year, the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) just over 22%, and the Dow Industrials (.DJI) about 19%. The small-cap Russell 2000 (.RUT) is up just over 14% year-to-date.

Additionally, the SPX, DJI, and IXIC are on track for their biggest rolling 3-year percentage gains since 1999.

Here is where markets now stand:

earlytrade12312021

(Terence Gabriel)

*****

IN 2021, THE S&P 500 ALMOST PARTIED LIKE IT WAS 1995 (0900 EST/1400 GMT)

With just one trading day to go in 2021, the S&P 500 (.SPX) is posting a 27.2% gain for the year. That's its biggest yearly rise since a 28.9% advance in 2019.

Video game retailer GameStop (GME.N), theater operator AMC Entertainment (AMC.N) and online brokerage Robinhood Markets (HOOD.O) were prominent amid meme stock mania read more , while Coinbase Global (COIN.O) capitalized on the cryptocurrency craze with its public listing. read more

On the IPO front, EV maker Rivian Automotive Inc's (RIVN.O) $12 billion deal was the biggest since Alibaba's (9988.HK) 2014 public debut. read more This as record-setting IPO and SPAC issuance in 2021 will be a tough act to follow. read more

Of note, however, it can be said that 2021 was also one big party for record-high closes.

Through Thursday, the benchmark index has registered 70 record-high closes, or the second most ever. Using Refinitiv data back to 1928, the most SPX record-high closes in a single year was 77 in 1995:

SPXRecordHighCloses12312021

Back in 1995, the S&P 500 rose 34.1%. The next year, it only recorded 39 record-high closes, and its gain slowed. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a very respectable 20.3% rise.

Not including this year, the SPX has averaged about 14 record-high closes per year.

Prior to 2021, the S&P 500 has registered more than 40 record-high closes in any single year 13 times. In 11 of those instances, or about 85% of the time, it scored fewer record-high closes the following year. The average for the years following more than 40 record-high closes, is 25. Still well above the overall average, but a sharp drop-off nonetheless.

Additionally, from 1929 to 2020, the S&P 500 has posted an average yearly change of +7.4%. The average yearly change in the years following more than 40 record-high closes is +4.4%.

Therefore, by these numbers, it may be a stretch to expect 2022 will deliver better results than what 2021 has offered.

(Terence Gabriel/Lance Tupper)

*****

FOR FRIDAY'S LIVE MARKETS' POSTS PRIOR TO 0900 EST/1400 GMT - CLICK HERE: read more

Terence Gabriel and Lance Tupper are Reuters market analysts. The views expressed are their own

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.