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US stocks best in 20 years


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US stocks powered to fresh records during the last session of 2013, closing out a year of stunning gains that some analysts say could continue in 2014.

The new records for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broad-based S&P 500 capped the best year for American stocks since the 1990s and confirmed the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

Investors repeatedly bid up equities on a cocktail of loose monetary policy, corporate earnings growth and the steadily rebounding economy.

Tuesday’s gains, another 0.44 per cent for the Dow and 0.40 per cent for the S&P 500, came on the back of more positive economic data — consumer confidence was bouncing back from a lull and home prices continued to rise.

The Dow on Tuesday rose 72.37 points, to end the year at 16,576.66. It notched 52 new records during 2013 and gained 26.5 per cent, the blue-chip index’s best one-year percentage increase in more than 15 years.

The S&P 500 advanced 7.29 points on the day to close at 1,848.36. It was up 29.6 per cent for the year – the largest one-year gain since 1997 – and smashed the record barrier 45 times..

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite, while still well short of its all-time record, closed the year at its best level since the 2000 .com crash, adding 38.3 per cent for the year to 4,176.59. On the day, it was up 22.39 points or 0.54 per cent.

The vast majority of companies on the S&P 500 – 457 of them – gained for the year, illustrating the broad character of the year’s bull run.

European stocks surged in 2013 on growing investor optimism, supportive central bank monetary policy and easing eurozone crisis fears, dealers said.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies leapt 14.43 per cent over the last 12 months in the biggest annual increase since 2009, aided also by the recovering British economy.

The FTSE rose by a modest 0.26 per cent on Tuesday to end 2013 at 6,749.09 points in an early finish.

The French CAC 40, meanwhile, soared 18 per cent over the course of the year, after adding 0.47 per cent in value to end at 4,295.95 points on Tuesday.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 was shut on Tuesday, one day after falling 0.39 per cent to finish the year at 9,552.16 points. Over the course of 2013, however, Frankfurt soared by a staggering 25.5 per cent, after a series of record peaks.

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