Wall Street little changed, euro rallies

We are fast heading to the end of a year in which the US stock market has made its largest gains in well over a decade, but today’s price movements have been minor.

Economic data today has been positive if underwhelming and has been met with a suitably low-key response by market participants on Wall Street: the major US stock index benchmarks were largely unchanged by early afternoon in New York. The Dow Jones edged up 7 points or 0.05% higher to 16,486, while the S&P 500 slipped back 0.11% to 1839.3.

With just one more trading day left in the year, it’s a natural time for taking stock of how far we have come in the last 12 months: the S&P is on course for its fourth monthly gain in a row, some 29% higher than where the index began the year.That is the best performance for the index since 1997.

US pending home sales nudged higher in November according to the National Association of Realtors, who today said their pending home sales index crept up to 101.7 from October’s downwardly-revised level of 101.5, a gain of just 0.2%. Existing home sales have been extremely sluggish in the second half of 2013, with rising mortgage rates and home prices working to constrain the market. The Case-Shiller home price index is released tomorrow for October, with further advances in prices expected, which could continue to weigh on sales.

The euro gained 0.41% against the US dollar, after an article in Der Spiegel quoted ECB President Mario Draghi as playing down eurozone deflation worries and saying no further action is required by the central bank yet. ‘At the moment we see no immediate need to act,’ said Draghi.

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