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Dow Beats the Holiday Blues After Christmas Sales Smash Records

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:25 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:25 PM
  • The Dow recorded its fourth straight session gain.
  • Last-minute Christmas shopping helped US retail sales set a single-day sales record.
  • That bodes well for January’s economic data dump.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for a fourth consecutive day on Tuesday, as last-minute Christmas shoppers primed the US economy for a strong batch of retail sales data to kick off the new year.

Dow Extends Winning Streak to Day #4

Wall Street’s three primary indices all rose during the holiday-shortened Christmas Eve trading session.

dow jones industrial average chart
The Dow rose during the abbreviated Christmas Eve trading session. | Source: Yahoo Finance 
  • The Dow advanced 22.14 points or 0.08% to 28,573.67 as the blue-chip index extended its winning streak to four.
  • The S&P 500 edged 0.78 points or 0.02% higher to 3,224.79.
  • The Nasdaq ticked up 3.44 points or 0.04% to 8,948.32.
  • The gold price set the $1,500 mark in its sights, spiking 0.4% to just under $1,495.

The stock market closes at 1 pm ET today. It will remain closed on Christmas and reopen with normal trading hours on Dec. 26.

‘Super Saturday’ Points to Strength in the US Economy

Strong consumer spending helped fortify the US economic expansion throughout 2019. Concerns about consumer sector health began to mount toward the end of the year, after a series of conflicting data releases raised questions about whether the manufacturing recession had begun to seize a foothold in the wider economy too.

But if a stellar “Super Saturday” is any indication, the US consumer is doing just fine.

Data from research firm Customer Growth Partners reveals that the final Saturday before Christmas brought US retailers $34.4 billion in sales , making it the best day in US retail history. That easily eclipsed Black Friday 2019, which saw $31.2 billion in sales.

us retail sales, christmas shopping data, us economy
Dec. 21 was the US retail industry’s best day ever. | Source: Bloomberg 

That may be partly due to a quirk of the calendar. Thanksgiving fell later than usual, shortening the holiday shopping season by almost a full week.

Regardless, it suggests that December’s retail sales data will point to strength in the US economy when the Census Bureau reveals the official statistics on Jan. 16.

BTIG: Stock Market Could Surge 22% in 2020

Healthy economic data would vindicate bullish forecasts from the likes of BTIG’s Julian Emanuel, who believes the S&P 500 could surge more than 20%  in 2020.

Despite rocketing nearly 40% off its Christmas Eve 2018 lows, Emanuel believes investors remained surprisingly skeptical about the sustainability of the recovery. He predicts appetites could return in next year, potentially priming the stock market for another historic year.

S&P 500, stock market forecast
BTIG’s Julian Emanuel says the S&P 500 could spiral as high as 3,950 next year. | Source: Yahoo Finance 

“We think confidence will ultimately translate into the public getting this enthusiasm for stocks which could cause prices to move as high as 3,950,” Emanuel told CNBC.

“In any great bull market, whether you think of technology in 2000 or houses over the course of the last couple of decades, it always ends or at least gets closer to the end when the public gets enthusiastic,” he continued. “We think this is the year.”

Emanuel maintains an “official” 2020 S&P 500 price target of 3,450 – a respectable, if unspectacular, 7% rise from its present level.

But he says there’s a strong possibility the S&P 500 spirals as high as 3,950, constituting a 22% surge. An equivalent move in the Dow would lift the blue-chip index to nearly 35,000, while the Nasdaq would soar as high as 10,900.