Stocks traded mixed today as the NASDAQ hit a new high while the Dow traded both sides of the fence before finally closing the day off 31 points to 19,855. Trading volume was higher for the Dow but lighter for the NASDAQ. Medical sector stocks were the star performers in the NASDAQ while transports and banks did well for the Dow.
The National Federation of independent Business or NFIB released its small business optimism index today and the reading was the best since 2004 as it posted its biggest jump in four decades. Last October, the index was at a negative 7% but improved to 12% in November then shot to 50% in December. NFIB President Juanita Duggan noted that small business appears ready for a breakout which will be good for the economy as a whole. While policy risk remains an issue with the new administration the one clear message seems to be all about job creation as companies from Ford to Apple are announcing investments in the US.
The transportation sector got a boost today after Bank of America upgraded the airline stocks. Moving in sympathy with the airlines were rail and trucking companies. This trend bears watching since the transportation sector is an indicator for the broader market and when transports move higher it generally signals better prospects for economic growth.