Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The stock market marched boldly higher again Thursday, continuing the bull run of 2013, and showing signs of what Wall Street affectionately calls a "Santa Claus Rally." The success of retailers over the holiday season gave stocks a lift, as investors cheered strong sales numbers, particularly from online sellers. In fact, consumers were in such a giving mood that UPS couldn't handle the volume, and some gifts didn't arrive in time for Christmas. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) didn't mind the heavy commerce one bit, surging 122 points, or 0.8%, to end at 16,479, an all-time high.
Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) ended as one of the better performers in the Dow, tacking on 1.1% as the stock continued to give back to its shareholders. Not only has 2013 been a landmark year for stocks, but the real estate market has also started to catch fire, with supply struggling to keep up with housing demand. This imbalance has led to home values rising the most since 2005, and increasing business for do-it-yourself home-improvement retailers like Home Depot. The Federal Housing Finance Agency index, which tracks the value of single-family homes financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, jumped more than 8% from 2012, yet it still remains 8.8% below its high in 2007, signaling further appreciation could be on the horizon if trends continue.
If you happen to be a DryShips (NASDAQ: DRYS ) shareholder, give yourself a pat or two on the back. Shares of this Greek shipping company have rallied a remarkable 26% in the last five days of trading alone. DryShips' stock price is largely a function of the Baltic Dry Index, which measures the cost to ship materials around the world. It's not hard to see why the stock's nearly tripled this year in light of the index's ascent from its 52-week low of 698 to today's close of 2,277.
Last but not least, Chinese online retailer LightInTheBox (NYSE: LITB ) finished as an outperformer in the services sector, jumping 4.4% Thursday. Though there wasn't much to report from the company today, this small-cap, $400 million company benefited from the surge in online retail, and a highly volatile stock price susceptible to large intraday swings. Investors will be waiting with bated breath for holiday sales metrics from LightInTheBox, which grew its revenue from just $26 million in 2009 to $200 million in 2012. That's some explosive growth, and shareholders are hoping it translates into profit one of these days.