Navigating the 2023 Santa Claus Rally: 3 Top Stock Picks for Year-End Gains

The Santa Claus rally refers to the sustained increase in the stock market indices that occurs during the last trading week of December and the first two trading days of the new year. It was first defined in The 1971 Stock Trader’s Almanac by Yale Hirsch.

Historically, major market indices, including the S&P 500, the Dow Jones, and the Nasdaq Composite, witnessed higher gains during these seven days compared to any other seven trading days of the year. Going back to 1950, the S&P 500 has gained nearly 80% times during this period.

In addition to marking a solid trading period, the Santa Claus rally is used as an early indicator by traders for what may happen in the new year. One of Yale Hirsch’s famous lines states: “If Santa Claus should fail to call, bears may come to Broad and Wall.”

Wall Street Awaits Santa Claus Rally This Year with Stocks Nearing Records

As we head into the last few days of 2023, Wall Street investors are counting on the Santa Claus rally to generate solid returns.

The S&P 500 climbed more than 4% in December alone and is up nearly 24% this year, bringing the index within 1% of a new all-time high. Also, the benchmark index is on track for its eighth consecutive positive week. The high optimism in the stock market is buoyed by solid earnings reports, several signs of strength in the economy, and a growing probability that interest rates will come down soon.

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, and the central bank chief Jerome Powell said the historic monetary policy tightening is likely over as inflation falls faster than expected and signaled interest rate cuts into 2024.

Data released last Friday supported the trend of easing inflation, showing annual U.S. inflation, measured by the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, further dropped below 3% in November. The PCE index fell by 0.1% between October and November, the first monthly decline in over three and a half years.

Combined with other latest data indicating disposable personal income and consumer sentiment rising, the U.S. economy seems to be heading into the new year on a solid footing.

“The narrative will continue to be about the Fed making a dovish pivot,” stated Angelo Kourkafas, senior investment strategist at Edward Jones. “That provides support on markets and sentiment and that is unlikely to change next week,”

Investors have demonstrated a substantial appetite for stocks lately. BofA clients bought about $6.4 billion of U.S. equities on a net basis in the last week, the largest weekly net inflow since October last year, BofA Global Research said in a December 19 report.

At the same time, there has been a “sharp increase” in buying among retail investors over the past four to six weeks, Vanda Research said in a note last Wednesday.

“After having chased higher yields aggressively in the past months, the FOMC pivot and strengthening soft-landing narrative have had individuals redirecting…

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