Stock Market Today: S&P 500 Eyes Strong Finish for 2014; Alibaba Spikes

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Though the S&P 500 has rallied to record highs over the past three weeks, analysts predict markets will continue to climb through to year's end. The benchmark index could rally a further 2.4% to close out the year at 2,080, according to Oppenheimer analysts.

"With elections in the rearview mirror, Ebola being dealt with (or at least off page one of the daily business section), improving fundamentals and double digit 3Q earnings growth for the S&P 500 underpinning sentiment, investors will likely now turn to year-end house-keeping chores," said John Stoltzfus, Oppenheimer chief investment strategist, in a note.

Watch the video below for a closer look at how U.S. markets are doing in midday trading Monday:

"[Those] include some profit taking, tax-loss harvesting, portfolio rotation along with pondering what lies ahead beyond the holidays," Stoltzfus added.

For investors watching markets Monday, a continuing upward trend appears self-evident. Despite no market-moving news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.17%, the S&P added 0.22% and the Nasdaq popped 0.29%. Meanwhile, Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba (BABA)  spiked more than 3% on the site's sales action.

Shares of Alibaba surged to a post-IPO record high after generating $2 billion in the first hour of its Singles Day promotion, China's highest-grossing online shopping day.

"We're going to have a good rest of the year," U.S. Bank's Jeffrey Kravetz said in a phone call. "We're going to trend higher. There may be a little bit of volatility just because of all these geopolitical events. But it's a very favorable environment here in the U.S."

The S&P has recovered around 9% since its six-month low in mid-October as positive earnings and robust economic data indicated the U.S. was more resilient to a global slowdown.

Risks to record highs for equities look minimal this week with little on the books to potentially rock markets.

"After last week's big market-movers-Midterm elections, payrolls and generally solid October data that support our estimate of 2.8% growth in Q4-the data schedule is pretty thin this week," BMO Research analyst Sal Guatieri wrote in a report Monday, though he pointed to retail sales on Friday as one anticipated release.

Cable companies Comcast (CMCSA)  and Time Warner Cable  (TWC)   fell after President Barack Obama called for the Federal Communications Commission to impose the "strongest possible rules" to ensure net neutrality by classifying broadband as a utility. Comcast tumbled 4.1% and Time Warner Cable slid 4.1%, while Netflix spiked 0.84%. 

Dendreon  (DNDN)  shares fell 76.4% after the drugmaker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

GoPro (GPRO)  shares were sliding 3.7% after the camera company released plans to offer $800 million in common stock to be used for working capital or to fund M&A activity.

Toll Brothers (TOL)  shares were gaining 2.6% following the release of the homebuilder's preliminary fourth-quarter results. Quarterly revenue spiked 29% to $1.35 billion, while backlog increased 3% to $2.72 billion.

Earnings season is wrapping up with major retailers Macy's (M) and Kohl's (KSS) , typically some of the final companies to report, due to release quarterly results on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Earlier this year, Macy's cut its full-year same-store sales guidance, though kept its earnings forecast unchanged. Similarly, Kohl's downwardly revised its full-year profit guidance, citing weakness in demand for women's clothing.

Of the 449 companies that have reported earnings for the third quarter so far, 74% beat analysts' estimates and 17% missed, according to S&P Capital IQ. 

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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