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Stock Market News: 12-18-21

Dec. 18, 2021 2:21 PM ET
Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.


  • All 4 indexes declined this week.
  • The Fed will accelerate its tapering of bond purchases.
  • The US $ gained vs. major currencies this week.

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Market Indexes: It was a down week, with all 4 indexes declining, after the Federal Reserve indicating a more rapid tapering of its bond purchases at its meeting this week.

Volatility: The VIX rose 15.4% this week, ending the week at $21.57.

High Dividend Stocks: These high dividend stocks go ex-dividend next week: MO, BTI, GLAD, GOOD, GAIN, LTC, OFS.

Market Breadth: 11 DJIA stocks rose this week, vs. 26 last week. 33% of the S&P rose, vs. 83% last week.

FOREX: The US $ gained vs. most major currencies this week.

Our Latest Seeking Alpha Articles:

"USA: 10% Yield, Good Dividend Growth, Trading Near NAV" (FRIDAY)

Economic News: "Federal Reserve policymakers moved into inflation-fighting mode on Wednesday, saying they would cut back more quickly on their pandemic-era stimulus at a moment of rising prices and strong economic growth, capping a challenging year with a policy shift that could usher in higher interest rates in 2022.

The central bank’s policy statement set up a more rapid end to the monthly bond-buying program that the Fed has been using throughout the pandemic to keep money chugging through markets and to bolster growth. A fresh set of economic projections released on Wednesday showed that officials expect to raise interest rates, which are now set near-zero, three times next year.

“Economic developments and changes in the outlook warrant this evolution,” Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said of the decision to pull back on bond purchases more quickly.

By tapering off its bond buying faster, the Fed is doing less to stimulate the economy with each passing month, and putting the program on track to end completely in March. That would place Fed policymakers in a position to raise interest rates — their more traditional and more powerful tool — sooner.

The Fed has made clear it wants to end its bond-buying program before it raises rates, which would cool off demand by making it more expensive to borrow for a home, a car or expanding a business. That would in turn weigh on growth and, eventually, price gains.

The Fed’s new economic projections suggested rates, which have been at rock-bottom since March 2020, might rise to 2.1 percent by the end of 2024.

“In my view we are making rapid progress toward maximum employment,” Mr. Powell said in his remarks. Fed officials estimated in their new economic projections that the unemployment rate would return to its prepandemic level of 3.5 percent by the end of 2022 — sooner than they had previously forecast." (NY Times)

"The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved raising the federal government's debt limit by $2.5 trillion, to about $31.4 trillion, and forwarded the measure to the House of Representatives to avoid an unprecedented default.

The 50-49 party-line vote follows a months-long standoff between Democrats and Republicans, with the latter seeking to force President Joe Biden's party to raise the debt limit from the current $28.9 trillion level on its own, generating fodder for attack ads during the 2022 congressional elections.

The increase is needed in part to cover debt incurred during Republican Donald Trump's presidency, when the debt rose by about $7.85 trillion, partly through sweeping tax cuts and spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic." (Reuters)

"Pfizer announced on Tuesday that its Covid pill was found to stave off severe disease in a key clinical trial and that it is likely to work against the highly mutated Omicron variant of the virus.

The results underscore the promise of the treatment, which health officials and doctors are counting on, to ease the burden on hospitals as the United States braces for a mounting fourth wave of the pandemic.

If the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the drug, which could happen within days, then patients might begin receiving it by the end of the year. Pfizer said its antiviral pill was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 88 percent when given to unvaccinated people at high risk of severe Covid within five days of the onset of symptoms.

The company also said that laboratory experiments indicated that the drug will attack a key protein in the Omicron variant, which is surging in South Africa and Europe and is expected to dominate U.S. cases in the weeks ahead. (NY TIMES)(MarketWatch)

Week Ahead Highlights: "Investors next week will be watching U.S. consumer confidence numbers for a read on whether buyers are changing their purchasing habits in the face of worries of high inflation and COVID-19." (Reuters)

Next Week’s US Economic Reports:(MarketWatch)

Sectors: Healthcare led this week, with Energy lagging. Energy remains the leading sector in 2021.

Futures: WTI Crude fell 2% this week, ending at $70.14.

All tables by Hidden Dividend Stocks Plus, unless noted otherwise.

Analyst's Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of USA either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives.

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