Investing is a jungle, and most of the so-called experts who get quoted in the media are on the prowl with a simple purpose -- to give you a reason to trade. But they don't know much more than you do, and all their arguments ignore a basic reality: The market is now controlled by short-term traders.
The 1% increase eases worries that activity in the sector that's so far led the U.S. economic recovery is cooling. The July increase was led by strong performances in the manufacturing and mining segments, while utilities cooled off.
The nation's recovery may appear slow in coming, but consumers are more upbeat heading into 2010. The Conference Board's consumer confidence rose to 52.9 in December, up from a revised 50.6 last month. That's the second monthly rise in a row.