Stocks Remain at Record YTD Highs as Long-Term Unemployed Lose Benefits

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Though rising throughout the morning, major U.S. markets reversed direction by midday, if only minimally, seemingly putting the brakes on a "Santa Claus" rally which propelled the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record closing high on Thursday. Even so, with only three trading sessions left in 2013, equities are set to end the year with the best performance since 1997.

  • By market close, the S&P 500 had dropped 0.03% to 1,841.46. The Dow had shed 0.01% to 16,479.05, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq suffered the worst losses, unloading 0.25% to 4,156.59.
  • The equity markets look to be closing in on a stellar year, bolstered by ongoing Federal Reserve stimulus and the return of a robust U.S. economy. Year to date, the Dow has soared 25.75%, the S&P 500 gained 29.1% and the Nasdaq popped 37.66%.
  • U.S. benchmark government bond yields increased to more than 3% on Friday, a two-and-a-half year high. The U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield topped 3.02%, a sign the U.S. economy is steadily improving. 
  • An estimated 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers will lose essential federal unemployment benefits on Saturday, a product of the bipartisan federal budget agreed upon this month to curtail government spending. The number of long-term unemployed ballooned to more than 6.7 million in the first half 2010 but has since declined to 4 million.
  • Global markets ended the week on a high, with the FTSE 100 0.85% higher, France's CAC 40 adding 1.44% and Germany's DAX up 0.92%.
  • European markets were strengthened on the announcement the European Central Bank and Bank of England will leave interest rates at record lows for the foreseeable future.
  • A record week for Twitter (TWTR) ended badly when Macquarie Capital downgraded the stock, warning it was moving "too far, too fast." The stock closed 13% lower to $63.75. Before Friday, the social network had gained 22.2%, even in spite of a shortened trading week.
  • A computer glitch on Thursday sparked an unintentional sale on Delta's (DAL) website, offering flights as low as $12.83. The airline said it would honor the discounted tickets sold.
  • Textron (TXT) added 1.1% to $36.61 on the news it has agreed to pay $1.4 billion to acquire Beechcraft. The acquisition will see Textron, a relatively small plane maker, rapidly expand its manufacturing portfolio including the addition of Cessna planes and Bell helicopters.
  • China's quality control group, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said it would recall more than 1.46 million General Motors  (GM) vehicles beginning Monday. The U.S. automaker, and its Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp, are to recall inventory with defective fuel-pump brackets. After gaining 1.6% on Thursday, GM stock has shed 1.4% to $40.94.

--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff.