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While you were sleeping: Fresh US records, Greek elections

Tuesday 30th December 2014

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Wall Street advanced, pushing the S&P 500 to a record high, as investors remained optimistic about the strength of the US economy.

In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed at 18.053.79, after earlier in the session falling as low as 18,021.57 and rising as high as 18,073.04. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.15 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.07 percent. Earlier in the session the S&P 500 climbed to a record high 2,093.55.

“The US economy is the one real bright spot. That economy is doing phenomenally well,” James Buckley, a portfolio manager at Baring Asset Management in London, told Bloomberg News. “That in itself is reason to be optimistic.”

In the Dow, gains in shares of JPMorgan Chase and those of Boeing, up 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent respectively, offset declines in shares of Microsoft and those of Visa, down 0.8 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

"Everything is a go right now, but there’s no reason to expect we’ll start seeing big moves this week. I don’t see anything ... that could derail or upset the market," Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York, told Reuters.

Indeed, concern about next month’s snap elections in Greece seemed contained to the country’s own stock and bond markets.

Greece’s ASE Index closed with a loss of 3.9 percent, after sinking more than 11 percent earlier in the session, as the country faces an early general election in January after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras lost his third and final bid to secure the support needed for his nominee for president. The country’s bonds also plunged. 

Opinion polls indicate elections will result in a shift in power to the anti-bailout Syriza party.

Samaras said in a live broadcast in Athens today that he will recommend parliamentary elections are held on January 25, almost 18 months before his coalition’s term was due to end, according to Reuters.

“These elections will be a struggle between fear for euro exit and anger against austerity,” George Pagoulatos, professor of European politics and economy at the Athens University of Economics and Business, told Bloomberg News.

Still, equity markets elsewhere in the euro zone advanced. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.1 percent increase from the previous close. Germany’s DAX Index gained 0.1 percent, the UK’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.4 percent, while France’s CAC 40 Index climbed 0.5 percent.

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