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Janet Yellen was confirmed last week as the central bank's new chairwoman, followed by release of the highly anticipated minutes from the Fed's last meeting. And the Fed was again in focus Friday as the disconcerting December jobs report left the central bank's decision to taper its bond-buying program in question.
Markets had a mixed response to this uncertainty. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 33 points, or 0.2%, to close out the week at 16,437.05. The S&P 500 Index eked out a modest 0.6% gain, or 11 points, to 1,842.37.
Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 1%, or 43 points, to reach 4,174.66, as the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show buoyed tech sector optimism.
Stocks may be off to a slow start this year after last year's record gains, but there are still plenty of ways to profit. Money Morning alerts readers to the savviest investing strategies and best stocks to buy now. Following is a recap from last week.
- The S&P 500 Index gained 32.9% last year, but many Money Morning picks logged even better gains. Defense & Technology Specialist Michael A. Robinson identified last year a stock that hadn't yet caught Wall Street's eye and predicted it would double in less than three years. And double it did - but in only five months. The stock has now garnered widespread attention, and Wall Street pros say it's set to double or even triple from here. Robinson agrees - so check it out and get on board now, while there's still plenty of upside.
- The auto industry has been stepping on the gas - in November, the industry sold a record-setting $1 billion worth of vehicles a day. But it's not the cars and trucks that have Robinson so enthusiastic - it's all the pioneering technology that comes standard with today's new vehicles. "This flood tide of new vehicles will have more cutting-edge technology than ever before, creating a perfect storm of two exploding industries," wrote Robinson. He says now is the most exciting time for the auto industry in the 34 years he's been tracking it, and he's especially excited about a "pure play" that could fuel plenty of profits for investors. Find out what small tech stock could be the auto boom's biggest winner.