The markets struggled through most of the day Monday with no clear direction, but it looks like the major indices will end 2013 with the largest annual percentage gains since the 1990s. Volume was thin the second to the last day of trading for 2013, but Monday’s lackluster performance follows a strong overall year for the markets.
With just shy of an hour of trade left for the day, at 3:10 p.m. ET, the Dow and Nasdaq were hovering at almost no change since the opening bell – the Dow was down just 0.01% to 16,478.41 and the Nasdaq was up 0.03% to 4,158.05 – while the S&P 500 was unchanged. The HW 30 (HW30) equity index of firms driving the U.S. housing economy was down 0.28%, or 3.04.
However, a closer look at the HW 30 showed modest gains for most of the homebuilding and associated firms, driven in large measure by the news of how home prices have returned to record territory in many markets, a milestone that comes seven years after the housing bubble burst and which put a flourish on what has been a good year for housing overall.
The biggest pull downward on the HW 30 was Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc.(IMH), which is still reeling after it announced on Dec. 18, a new strategy for 2014 that involves upping its online services but closing 23 brick-and-mortar storefronts and laying off 180 employees.