COLUMBIA - Another week of strong earnings reports led to record highs on Wall Street.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high of 15,961.70 Friday, pushed up by Exxon, to finish up 1.27 percent for the week. The NASDAQ finished up 1.7 percent for the week to close at 3,985.97, and strong performance from energy and materials stocks pushed the S&P 500 up to a new high this week. The index closed up 27 points to finish at 1,798.18.
The Department of Health and Human Services unveiled disappointing healthcare enrollment numbers this week. Only 106,185 Americans have enrolled in the program, which is only 1.5 percent of what the budget office had projected for 2014. The state exchanges had better luck than the troubled federal site, with 75 percent signing up on state sites. In Missouri, only 751 total people have signed up using the federal exchange. The White House said the federal site is expected to be fixed and running smoothly by Nov. 30.
Holiday shopping is expected to be less this year than in 2012. A Gallup Poll shows the average American plans to spend $704 this holiday season on shopping. That's down from last year when consumers said they planned to spend $786 dollars, and down even more from 2010 and 2011. The good news for retailers, though, is that in past years, people have spent more than they anticipated.
On Wednesday, October retail sales numbers come out, and existing home sale numbers come out that same day. With rising mortgage rates, that'll help show the strength of the housing market, and everyone is watching the Fed closely to see when tapering might begin. The minutes from their meeting are released Wednesday as well.
One last note, Wal-Mart announced this week that they'll be joining the long list of retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day this year, and open their stores at 6 pm, and Sears and K-Mart have announced online Black Friday sales will start a full week early for Sears and five days early for K-Mart but those sales are only for members.