Dec 20, 2019 - Economy & Business

The stock market's quiet end to 2019

Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P 500 rose half a percent on Thursday to top the 3,200 level for the first time.

The big picture: A year that saw equity prices whipsawed by trade war uncertainty and recession fears is ending (so far) on a relatively quiet note.

  • One sign of calmness: Volatility in short-end U.S. treasuries has plummeted, after "rocketing higher in late May 2019 on Trumpian uncertainty," as Arbor Research & Trading's Ben Breitholtz points out.
  • "Waning uncertainty and investors disregarding the repo-doomsayers has returned a sense of calm. If concern brews again, this will be one of the first place(s) it noticeably emerges."

What's next: Turning to 2020, the same threats that worried Wall Street analysts this time last year haven't completely vanished. A re-escalation of U.S.-China trade tensions is among the caveats that could knock bullish year-end S&P price targets off-course, analysts say.

What they're saying: "The rivalry between the US and China hasn't gone away. Investors will be alert for any sign that tensions are re-emerging, or either side is dissatisfied with the implementation of the Phase 1 agreement," UBS analysts wrote in a note on Thursday.

  • That firm predicts the S&P will end next year lower than where it's trading now, though most Wall Street analysts forecast more upside.

Go deeper: Asset managers urge caution in 2020

Go deeper