Have you been watching the stock market this past week?

Graph courtesy of Yahoo! Finance

(Ventura County, Ca) If you have been glued to your TV this week watching the rise and fall of major indices, you are not alone.

On December 24, a day people hope for a “Santa Claus Rally,” the markets saw the largest drop in history with a loss of more 653 points on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) otherwise called “the Dow.” As investors licked their wounds on Christmas, December 26 opened and saw a 1,080 point gain for the largest single day gain in history, setting another record.

On Friday, The Dow was initially up more than 260 points but then late session trading resulted in being down 76 points at close.

Despite Friday’s losses, the markets had their first positive week of the month. Investors are eager to see where Monday’s trading will end for the year. Without substantially positive trading, the Dow and S&P 500 are on track for their worst December since 1931.

So what happened?

Reports released this past week sent conflicting data to the markets. On one hand, the U.S. job market is holding strong, with unemployment at the lowest level in almost 50 years. Economic growth is doing well with the gross domestic product (GDP) expanding to 3.5 percent in the third quarter.

However, the Consumer Confidence Index decreased in December, following a modest decline in November. The Index now stands at 128.1 (1985=100), down from 136.4 in November. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – declined slightly, from 172.7 to 171.6. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – decreased from 112.3 last month to 99.1 this month.

“Consumer Confidence decreased in December, following a moderate decline in November,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short-term. While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in Expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019.”

In addition to this have been concerns about the rise of interest rates, trade concerns, and the potential for a slow down of the global economy.

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