Wall St's Santa Claus rally hopes

Trading desks will be back to full staff this week after the Thanksgiving break in the US and investors are expected to be in a mood to buy - at least that's what traders are hoping.

While stocks ended little changed in thin trading on Friday, Wall Street posted another strong month of gains. For all of November, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.5 per cent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 2.8 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 3.6 per cent.

And the hope for a Santa Claus rally through December, whether justified or not, may help extend the gains into the New Year.

Federal Reserve policymakers continue to be credited for triggering most of the surge in stock prices this year and the potential for still more stimulus should be clearer with this week's pending economic data.

"The whole market is trying to channel the Fed," Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey, told Reuters.

Krosby said volatility is to be expected as the reaction to data is more a "let's interpret how the Fed interprets it" rather than what it means for the economy.

The biggest report will arrive on Friday in the form of November's nonfarm payrolls, with analysts betting on 185,000 new jobs, down from 204,000 in October.

Ahead of the payrolls though are a swag of statistics, including American manufacturing and services data from the Institute for Supply Management on Monday and on Wednesday respectively. Also Wednesday, ADP will release its private-sector jobs report.

On Thursday, the auto industry will release US car and truck sales data and there will be factory orders as well as weekly jobless claims. The week concludes with the payrolls, US consumer sentiment on Friday.

All the reports will be scrutinised for one key theme: an acceleration in the recovery of the world's biggest economy.

"Clients are worried that they might again get left behind," Ethan Anderson, senior portfolio manager at Rehmann Financial in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told Bloomberg. "The push is into equities and that will continue."

And it's not just in the US.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.7 per cent to 325.16 last week, its largest increase since October 18. Data is pointing to strength in the UK, Germany, Italy and even Spain.

S&P raised its outlook on Spanish debt on Friday, while the ratings agency lifted Cyprus to B- from CCC+. Moody's Investors Service on Friday raised Greece's government bond rating to Caa3 from C.

In a bid boost growth in Japan, Nomura Securities said base pay, primarily for younger staff, will be increased an average 2 per cent starting in April. That's in line with the Bank of Japan's inflation target.

Deflation remains a concern in Japan as well as a threat in Europe.

Europe's bank regulator on Friday said more than 3,500 bankers in the region, including the UK, were paid more than 1 million euros in 2012. Britain was home to 2,188 investment bankers earning more than 1 million euros in 2012, the highest amount in the EU.

- BusinessDesk

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