wall street stock exchangeHere we are about a year-and-a-half after the official end of the Great Recession and yet it's still hard times for millions of Americans. Unemployment remains stuck at 9.6% and shows no signs of falling significantly any time soon. The Federal Reserve just said unemployment will stay as high as 8% for the next two years. And the central bank cut its outlook for economic growth all they way through 2011. Ugh.

But as rocky and sluggish as the economic recovery has been both at home and abroad, investors have plenty to be thankful for. Stocks and bonds have generated pretty decent returns so far this year, corporate profits are rebounding sharply and the economic data is (mostly) getting incrementally better, among other bullish news.

So as the market takes a time out for Thanksgiving, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on some good fortune. Here, then, are six things for which investors should be thankful this holiday season:

1.) Weekly jobless claims -- which traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange eyeball closely -- are finally headed in the right direction. Indeed, on Wednesday the reading on jobless claims declined to its lowest level since June 2008, helping the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) to a triple-digit gain Wednesday.

2.) The V-shaped recovery in corporate profits continues unabated, which is great news for investors since stocks are supposed to represent a claim on future earnings. In the third-quarter corporate profits hit an all-time record, according to data from Thomson Reuters, and have grown for seven consecutive quarters.

3.) Third-quarter gross domestic product was significantly better than Wall Street expected. Even David Rosenberg, the bearish chief economist and strategist at asset manager Gluskin Sheff, was impressed by the latest reading on GDP. "There was a nice upward revision to [third-quarter GDP] to 2.5% from 2.0% initially and the 2.4% that was widely expected," Rosenberg told clients in a note. "Outside of non-residential construction, the upward revisions were quite broad-based."

4.) The latest flow of economic data has made the chances of a double-dip recession look pretty remote. As Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James, told clients Wednesday, a slew of recent economic data is flashing bullish signs, including better-than-expected housing starts, a rise in small business optimism and an encouraging pick-up in year-over-year retail sales.

5.) If Wall Street's forecasts for future corporate profit growth are on the mark, stocks look like a bargain. The forward price/earnings (P/E) ratio on the S&P 500 is currently lower than it was when the market bottomed out back in March 2009, according to data from Thomson Reuters. In other words, stocks look cheaper now than they did during the darkest days of the crash, when they subsequently rallied a good 75%.

6.) Broadly speaking, both stocks and bonds have generated decent -- and very similar -- returns this year. That's good news for bulls and bears alike. The S&P 500, a proxy for the wider market, has generated a total return of 7.8% year-to-date, according to data from Lipper. Meanwhile, the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBMFX), a proxy for the wider bond market, has generated a total return of 7.78% this year, albeit with far less volatility. See the chart below.


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skilletsinc

investors not investers

November 27 2010 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
claudearmstrong@

The market seems poised to move upwards in the coming QUARTER as we see strength coming from investers who have been waiting for a great year

November 26 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
claudearmstrong@

The market seems poised to move upwards in the coming QUARTER as we see strength coming from investers who have been waiting for a great year

November 26 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

I give thanks for the shellacking every day. It is a step in the right direction.

November 26 2010 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment
pandlrichards

Amen brother me too! Zoro

November 26 2010 at 10:44 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
piscesbaby36

With the Republicans and especially the Tea Partiers taking control of the runaway Pelosi spending train, investors should start feeling good, but not as good as they will feel when Obama is gone in 2012!!!

November 26 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to piscesbaby36's comment
gardeningatnite

Did you (really) read the article??? LOL!

November 26 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

When I saw that Barry had been socked in the nose, I thought Michelle must have done it. She has no respect for the office of president or she wouldn't make him come home every afternoon and play with the kiddies when he should be tending to the business of the country. Black women are usually the boss of the family..........of course they are often single parents.

November 26 2010 at 7:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

STOP THE BULL CRAP ON CAPITOL HILL NOW!

November 26 2010 at 2:51 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE MAD AS HELL AND ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT MUCH LONGER

November 26 2010 at 2:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE MAD AS HELL AND ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT MUCH LONGER

November 26 2010 at 2:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ultraz2

STOP THE BS ON CAPITOL HILL NOW OR STEP DOWN

November 26 2010 at 2:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply