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Please Don't Go, 2017!

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Here’s the market’s year-end tally:

NASDAQ: +28.2%
Dow: +25.1%
S&P: +19.4%

It’s too bad we have to say goodbye to 2017! It was oftentimes a frustrating year, with Washington craziness, North Korean saber-rattling and an epic hurricane season (among other factors) challenging the market time and time again.

In the end though, stocks took it all in stride and found more than enough reason to continue pushing higher. Now, 2018 inherits a strong economy, low unemployment and a just-passed tax reform package that slashed the corporate rate. That’s a solid foundation for another strong year.

Unfortunately, 2017 didn’t end with a rally. On the final trading day, the NASDAQ lost 0.67% to 6903.4, while the S&P slipped 0.52% to 2673.6 and the Dow dipped 0.48% to 24,719.2. (On the last trading day of 2016, the NASDAQ was at 5383.1, the S&P was at 2238.8 and the Dow was 19,762.6.) It was a lackluster and short final week that saw the Dow and S&P snap their five-week winning streaks.

However, December marked the ninth straight monthly gain for the S&P and Dow, and the sixth straight for the NASDAQ. The fourth quarter was also positive for all three.

Despite all the tumbleweeds in the market on Friday, there was a buy in the portfolios. Technology Innovators added a company that Brian Bolan thinks is poised for a breakout. This marks the final move in the services for 2017. See more below:

Today's Portfolio Highlights:

Technology Innovators: It’s still a trading day…even if much of the market has taken the session off. Technically, Brian Bolan is off today too, but the editor saw an opportunity that he just couldn’t pass up. On Friday, he bought Apptio (APTI), which makes software that helps companies manage IT assets and spending. The stock is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) with a Zacks Style Score of “A” for Growth. In late October, APTI reported a solid beat and raise quarter. Brian wanted to get into this name today because he thinks it is primed for a breakout anytime now. Read more specifics on this last move of 2017 in the complete commentary. 

Counterstrike: "In a year of low volatility, the smartest play this year was just to buy and hold. As a trader, this environment doesn’t suit us well. We want stocks to go up and down so we can buy and sell with the price movement. The slow grind higher isn’t advantageous to our style, so it was challenging to find good stocks at decent prices. 

"I found myself chasing stocks a lot this year, but for the most part it worked. The strategy that worked the best for Counterstrike was to buy stocks that were sold after good EPS reports. The algos love to sell into the good news and shake out the weak hands. After a stock consolidated at a technical level, there always seemed to be a reasonable risk/reward trade. Since this strategy worked so well, we will continue to use it. Stocks like FSLR and TWTR were recent examples of this type of trade. 

"If I had to guess I would expect another positive year in 2018. I think the S&P might see 3300-3400, but then sell off in the second part of the year, perhaps starting with a traditional sell in May sell off. However, I think the crypto space could have some influence. If blockchain becomes the next internet we could see a crazy bubble in stocks that might make the internet bubble look tame. This would cause a rise in volatility, despite a rise in the market. Something I have been waiting for with great patience." -- Jeremy Mullin 

Happy New Year!
Jim Giaquinto

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