Stocks tiptoed through a typically introspective, no drama December week in the past five days, with the Dow Jones Industrials rising 0.7%, and the Nasdaq, S&P 500, and Russell 2000 all rising about a third of a percent.
While an 0.3% gain doesn't sound like much for a week, it is actually a great result. If the market were up 0.3% every week for 52 weeks, it would be up 17% for the year without dividends, which is about double the long-term average. And just to round out that idea, if the market were up 17% every year for 10 years, it would end the decade up 380%. Small amounts add up due to the magic of compounding.
The market was not fully in gear across all industries. The deep cyclicals performed best, led by steelmakers, which were up 6.5% as a group. Leading the way was mini-mill Nucor Corp.(NYSE: NUE), which rose 7% for the week after offering a bright forecast for the first half of 2010. Consumer staples were another plus, led by food makers such as Hansen's NaturalCorp. (NASDAQ: HANS) and Boston Beer Co. Inc.(NYSE: SAM), up 7.5% and 13% for the week.
Retailers and financials fell back the most during the week led by the 18% plotz of Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY). Consumer spending is actually on track, as I'll discuss in a moment, so this was mostly a BBY problem not a problem for the whole industry.