NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The broader market is higher on Thursday following significantly better-than-expected Philly Fed results. Also, jobless claims dropped, homebuilding activity picked up and lower gas prices are helping the economy.
But don't forget, the Philly Fed report is region-specific, said Stephanie Link, chief investment officer of TheStreet and co-manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime" show.
That said, the report is very positive for the economy and U.S. stocks look like a great place to invest going into year's end, she said.
U.S. stocks continue to be the best investment, according to Joseph Terranova, chief market strategist for Virtus Investment Partners. He pointed out the bullish price action in the Russell 2000 and said the rally can continue.
The recovery in the U.S. economy is great, but the Federal Reserve needs to be cautious about raising rates too quickly, which could quickly stifle growth, said Jon Najarian, co-founder of optionmonster.com and trademonster.com.
Pete Najarian, co-founder of optionmonster.com and trademonster.com, says he likes stocks on the long side in 2015, but doesn't see many near-term catalyst to push the market higher into year's end. Investors should buy the CBOE Volatility Index I:VIX as a way to protect their portfolio in the event of another pullback.
Dollar General (DG) - Get Dollar General Corporation Report is worth $70, even without its potential deal to acquireFamily Dollar (FDO) , according to Link. Wednesday's pullback to $63 was an overreaction, she said. The company's prospects look attractive going forward.
Analysts' estimates are likely to go higher because of Best Buy's better product selection and higher-than-expected comp-store sales growth, Terranova reasoned. Link agreed, saying the stock isn't expensive based on valuation.
Jon Najarian said investors should use the recent strength in retail stocks to take profits heading into Black Friday. Typically, the seasonal trade dies down following that weekend and many retail stocks underperform afterwards.
But because of lower gas prices, many of these retailers can continue to outperform for longer, Link argued.
The conversation shifted to Japanese equities, when Melissa Otto, active equity group director at the TIAA-CREF organization, came on the show. Fund managers continue to invest heavily in Japanese equities, as the yen continues to weaken. "I'm fired up right now going into the end of the year," she said, preferring to be long the exporters and financial stocks.
Shares of Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) are lower by 8% following disappointing earnings results. Jon Najarian said he is not a buyer nor a short-seller of the stock near current levels.
Terranova said investors who are long and worried that momentum in GMCR is fading, can buy put options to protect their holdings. He also suggested buying Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report and J.M. Smucker (SJM) - Get J.M. Smucker Company (SJM) Report for exposure to the coffee industry.
Shares of Starbucks are much cheaper than Green Mountain on a valuation basis, Link added. The stock has also underperformed the broader market this year.
Hessam Nadji, senior vice president at Marcus and Millichap, was a guest on the show. He said the commercial real estate market has been strong, helped along by an improving economy and a lack of new projects. "Fundamentals are improving very rapidly" for the hospitality REIT industry. His top two picks are Strategic Hotels & Resorts undefined and Ashford Hospitality Group (AHT) - Get Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc. Report .
Six of the ten best performing REITs are in the lodging space, Terranova added.
For their final trades, Link is a buyer of Carnival Corp. (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report and Pete Najarian is buying Disney (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report . Terranova said to buy Deckers (DECK) - Get Deckers Outdoor Corporation Report and Jon Najarian is buying Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) .
-- Written by Bret Kenwell