Stock rally caps one of the best years of the decade

Wire reports

U.S. stocks capped one of the best years of the past decade with a slight gain on Tuesday, pushing the S&P 500 to an annual advance of 28.9% and a record $5.9 trillion in value added.

It’s the S&P 500’s best annual performance since 2013. The benchmark index has risen for five straight weeks, hitting a number of all-time highs along the way. It closed out December with its fourth consecutive monthly gain.

The Nasdaq 100 Index notched a 38% gain for the year, its best since 2009. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 22.3% for the year.

Trader Gregory Rowe, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Major indexes spent most of the day wavering between small gains and losses. Technology and health care stocks led the gainers. The S&P 500 rose 9 points, or 0.3%, to 3,230. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 76 points, or 9.3%, to 28,538. The Nasdaq rose 26 points, or 0.3%, to 8,972.

With several major markets shuttered and trading volumes depressed before the New Year’s holiday, the dominant moves on Tuesday were themes expected by many to feature heavily in 2020 – a weakening dollar, stabilizing global economy and easing of U.S.-China trade tensions. The lull across markets on Tuesday draws a line under a year of spectacular returns for many asset classes.

The market’s trajectory to a strong finish for the year began in October as stocks emerged from a late-summer slump caused by fears that the U.S. economy could be headed for a recession. Those concerns eased as investors drew encouragement from surprisingly good third-quarter corporate earnings, a third interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve and other data showing the economy was not slowing as much as economists had feared.

A truce in the 17-month U.S.-China trade war helped keep investors in a buying mood through the end of the year. Washington and Beijing announced in December they reached an agreement over a “Phase 1” trade deal that calls for the U.S. to reduce tariffs and China to buy larger quantities of U.S. farm products.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he will sign the initial trade deal with China at the White House next month. He also said he plans to travel to Beijing at a later date to open talks on other sticking points in the U.S.-China trade relationship that remain to be worked out, including Chinese practices the U.S. complains unfairly favor its own companies.

Bloomberg and The Associated Press contributed.