The stock markets in the United States ended the trading session with mixed results today. The NASDAQ dropped 0.33% while the Russell 2000 fell 0.09%. The S&P 500 went up 0.18% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) gained 0.37% today.

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For the first time, the Dow Jones reached more than 18,000 points driven by better than expected growth in gross domestic product (GDP). The United States Department of Commerce increased its GDP estimate for the third quarter from 3.9% last month to 5%, the fastest growth rate in more than a decade. The estimated growth rate was higher than the 4.3% expected by economists.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Stephen Carl, principal and head equity trader at Williams Capital Group commented, “The market was roaring yesterday, and going into the end of the year it keeps pushing higher. The Fed is part of the fueling of everything, and you have to couple that with the year-end push.”

The Federal Reserve recently stated that it can be patient when it comes to increasing the interest rate.  The Dow Jones rose around 175% during the past five years of bull market, which was helped by positive corporate earnings results, three rounds of bond-buying program and low interest rates.

Some of the companies in the Dow Jones that achieved the biggest gains this year include Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and Intel Corporation (INTC), up by more than 44% and 30%, respectively. Home Depot Inc (HD), Walt Disney Co (DIS) and Nike Inc (NKE) also gained around 22% this year.

John Canally, an economic strategist at LPL Financial said, “The underlying trend in the economy is still there, we’re still in the middle of the business cycle and earnings look solid. That’s adding up to a lot of people saying ‘hey, I’m missing this, I better get involved in the stock market.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 18,025.78 (+0.37%)
  • S&P 500- 2,082.21 (+0.18%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,765.42 (-0.33%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,200.80 (-0.09%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,192.47 (+ 19%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,598.18 (+0.33%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,922.11 (+0.57%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 17,635.14 (+0.08%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,333.69 (-0.32%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,324.92 (-2.92%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Chesapeake Energy climbed 10.15% to $2019 per share driven by its announcement that its board of directors approved a $1 billion shares repurchase program. The energy company also completed the sale of its assets to Southwestern Energy for $4.975 billion.

Gilead Sciences suffered another decline after dropping 14% yesterday. The stock was down 3.71% to $89.45 per share. The company was negatively impacted by the decision of Express Scripts to dump its hepatitis treatments Sovaldi and Harvoni from its National Preferred Formulary starting January 1, 2015.

The shares of Vanda Pharmaceuticals gained 14% to $13.58 per share after disclosing that it reached a settlement agreement with Novartis AG (NVS) to dismiss the ongoing arbitration related to Fanapt license and to release each other from related claims.

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