Stocks Confirm 'Santa Claus' Rally With Best Week Since October

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. markets confirmed a 'Santa Claus rally' after data showed the U.S. economy expanded at its fastest pace since late 2011 as consumers pushed up spending, a key driver of U.S. growth. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index  posted its best week since Oct. 18 fueled by the Federal Reserve's decision on Wednesday to begin tapering its massive economic stimulus program.

The Commerce Department reported that third-quarter 2013 gross domestic product grew 4.1% year-over-year, a bump higher from a previous reading of 3.6%, and as personal consumption increased 2%. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 3.6% gain.

"It's an endorsement that the economy is stronger," Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, said in a phone interview from Austin, Texas. "The reaction that we got on Wednesday and the follow through [Friday] ... confirms that."

  • The S&P 500 gained 0.49% to 1,818.55, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.26% to 16,221.72 and the Nasdaq climbed 1.15% to 4,104.74.
  • Major indices posted weekly gains as increasing confidence in underlying economic strength was punctuated by the Fed's plan of $10 billion tapering of economic stimulus starting in January.
  • Scorecard for the week: S&P 500 gained 2.44%, the Dow increased 2.96% and the Nasdaq climbed 2.59%.
  • Smartphone maker BlackBerry (BBRY) reported a third-quarter net loss of 67 cents a share, compared to analysts' expectations of a loss of 43 cents a share. Revenue of $1.2 billion missed consensus by $460 million. Still, details of a new deal with Foxconn inspired hope the company could turn itself around. Shares surged 15.7% to $7.23.
  • Walgreen (WAG) recorded first-quarter earnings of 7 cents a share, in line with analysts' expectations. Revenue of $18.3 billion was 5.9% higher than the year-ago quarter. Shares popped 3.8% to $59.08.
  • S&P Winner and Loser: Textron  (TXT) surged 14.5% to $37.28, while CarMax  (KMX) tumbled 9.4% to $48.07.
--Written by Andrea Tse, Keris Alison Lahiff and Joe Deaux.

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