The stock markets in the United States fluctuated on Monday, the second-to-last trading day for 2013. Consumer discretionary stocks led while energy equities lagged the trading session today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) achieved a slight gain, the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) and NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) dropped by 0.02% and 0.06%, respectively.

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Last week, the S&P 500 recorded an all-time high, and is close to achieving its largest annual gain since 1997, according to Bloomberg.

John Carey, fund manager at Pioneer Investment Management commented, “It’s a slow market right now without any dramatic news and I don’t see much happening between now and trading through close tomorrow. Then we’re off to the races in the New Year.”

Today, the National Association of Realtors reported that the sales of pending homes improved 0.2%, the first gain over the past six months. Economists polled by Bloomberg projected a 1% increase in pending home sales. In October, pending home sales declined 1.2%.

Data from Bloomberg and the Investment Company Institute showed that exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds that made investments in equities achieved approximately $162 billion, the highest gain since 2000.

“The equity culture is not dead. We kind of lost sight of the fact that equities still provide long-term good returns” previously stated Joseph Quinlan, chief market strategist at Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) U. S. Trust.

Some Wall Street strategists are projecting that equity returns will slow down next year. Data from Bloomberg indicated that the S&P 500 will be at around 1,959 points by the end of 2014 based on the average estimate of 20 strategists. The figure represents a 5.9% gain over the next 12 months.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,504.29 (+0.16%)
  • S&P 500- 1,841.07 (-0.02%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,154.20 (-0.06%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,161.03 (-0.01%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,100.93 (-0.34%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,731.27 (-0.29%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,552.16 (-0.39%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 16,291.31 (+0.69%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,244.87 (+0.01%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,299.46 (-0.17%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock prices of Crocs, Inc (NASDAQ:CROX) increased 21.31% to $16.18 per share after the company announced that an affiliate investment fund of The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE:BX) agreed to buy $200 million worth of its newly issued series A convertible preferred stock. The company also said that it would revise its capital structure to implement a $350 million shares repurchase program.

Myriad Genetics Inc (NASDAQ:MYGN) declined nearly 14% to $20.80 per share after several analysts downgraded their recommendation for the stock. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lowered the reimbursement for its BRCA breast and ovarian cancer testing to $1,438.14. The amount is almost 50% lower than the previous reimbursement rate, according to Doug Schenkel, analyst at Cowen & Co.

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) climbed 2.53% to $76.23 per share driven by the positive recommendation of Michael Morris, analysts at Guggenheim Securities LLC. He raised his rating for the shares of the entertainment company from Neutral to Buy with a 12-month price target of $87 per share.