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Stocks Take Tiny Steps, As Market Wraps Up Big Yearly Gain | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

U.S. stock indexes were trading under the day’s break-even line midday Friday, as the market headed toward its best annual gain in four years.

X The Nasdaq trimmed 0.2%, while the S&P 500 eased less than 0.1%. The Dow Jones industrial average shaved off less than 0.1%. The small-cap Russell 2000 fell 0.2%.

Volume in the stock market today was tracking higher compared with the same time Thursday on the NYSE but was flat on the Nasdaq. Trade was slow all week because of the holiday season. The market will be closed for New Year’s Day on Monday. Volume likely won’t pick up until either Tuesday or later.

For the year, the Nasdaq is on track for a 29% gain; the Dow Jones industrial average, 26%; and the S&P 500, 20%. Among IBD’s 197 industry groups, the top gainer was the homebuilder group, up 99%.

Meanwhile, traditional defensive plays were advancing Friday. Tobacco and food groups posted the day’s best gains.

But it wasn’t clear that tobacco was attracting buyers with defense in mind.

In the tobacco group, Turning Point Brands (TPB) rose 3% in torrid volume. Turning Point sells Zig-Zag make-your-own cigarette papers, smokeless tobacco and vapor products.

The company does not sales cigarettes. California’s looming legalization of recreational marijuana could spur additional demand for the rolling papers.

In the 30-component Dow Jones industrial average, Coca-Cola (KO) led the upside with a 0.8% pop. The stock is forming a base with a 47.58 buy point.

The IBD 50, a proxy for top-rated stocks, only two stocks attracted strong volume midday Friday. Solar play Daqo New Energy (DQ) rose 3% in twice its usual volume to a new high. Retailer Floor & Decor (FND) retreated about 2% in double its average trade.

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