Speed Reads

Economics

Stocks hit new all-time highs this week

The bull market in stocks isn't running out of steam, at least not yet — even with lots of geopolitical risks rearing their ugly heads and the Fed pressing forward with tapering its quantitative easing stimulus. Yesterday the S&P500 index soared to close at an all-time high of 2000.2, although it fell back a little today and is currently trading at 1999.6. The index is up 9.67 percent so far in 2014, and that's off the back of a monster 2013 when it rose 30 percent, the best annual gains since 1997.

What's driving the continued growth? Ordinary investors — after a grim few years since the financial crisis — finally began to come back into the market in 2013, and money keeps flowing into stocks, albeit a little more slowly than last year. According to Gallup, the percentage of investors optimistic about the market soared to 54 percent last year, compared to 24 percent who were pessimistic. Today, the optimists still greatly outweigh the pessimists by 46 percent to 26 percent:

Forty-one percent of investors surveyed by Gallup last month said that the best place to put an extra $10,000 was in the market, compared to 36 percent who preferred to keep it in cash, and 20 percent who preferred a certificate of deposit.