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January Has Come Early To US Market, Analysts Suggest

by Carla Johnson, Investors Offshore.com, London

30 December 2003


According to a report in the Wall Street Journal this week, the traditional late December-early January rally may have started early, meaning that the market has effectively "used up" some of its January gains.

The US business daily explained that:

"December and January are both usually strong months for the market. But a number of analysts say the dynamics that usually drive the market at year end, then after Dec. 31, may have kicked off early this year. It is a phenomenon that investors are growing accustomed to seeing in recent years."

It continued:

"Most analysts still expect the month to be strong, but many are beginning to wonder whether gains may be tempered by the strong move already made in December."

Observers are divided as to possible explanations for the strong activity in early December, with some suggesting that investors are wising up to the traditional pattern of tax-related selling, followed by the snappng up of shares in early January, in the belief that the tax-related selling has created value.

Other analysts, however, suggest that that the strong activity is a result of the increasing influence of hedge funds, which are not only selling their losing stocks, but are divesting themselves of their top performers as well, in order to lock in gains.

The report went on to suggest that:

"Some market experts said investors' recent choices may bode ill for a continued marketwide rally next year, since heavy activity in defensive stocks often means that investors are getting nervous and a bull move could be nearing its end."


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