Two more days — What you need to know in markets on Thursday

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Just two more days.

That is all that is left on the trading calendar for 2017, capping what has been a stellar year for U.S. stocks with the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq each set to score investors total returns of over 20% for the year.

On the economic calendar on Thursday, the main highlight will be the weekly report on initial jobless claims, though this figure has been sitting near generational lows for the last several months save for a few noisy readings around Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

The earnings calendar this week is devoid of any major reports.

So with trading volumes light this week, investors will be focused on news around the health of the U.S. consumer, with all reports so far pointing to a blowout holiday season for shoppers.

On Tuesday, Amazon (AMZNboasted about the success of its holiday season, with the company saying that in one week over four million people started Prime memberships or trials, giving them free two-day shipping for the holiday season.

Amazon has been enjoying a strong holiday shopping season, helping boost the fortunes of CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person.

Research has shown that Amazon Prime members spend about $600 more with the retailer than non-members over the course of a year, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said he hopes to make it “irresponsible” for someone not to sign up for Prime.

And so with Amazon’s strong readings on the holiday season, shipping giants UPS (UPS) and FedEx (FDX) also said Wednesday that this year has been a record breaker.

UPS said that during the holiday season stretching from Black Friday through New Year’s it will deliver 750 million packages, while returns are also poised to be a record. Returns during December were running at one million per day, UPS said, with the pace expected to hold up until early January. FedEx also said it was a record breaking holiday season, but the company provided no data to back up this assertion.

On Tuesday, MasterCard (MA) data said that retail sales were up 4.9% from last year, the best rate of growth since 2011. Consumer confidence data released from The Conference Board on Wednesday showed consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions increased again in December. And earlier this month, retail sales figures for November crushed expectations.

So with 2017 already a strong year for markets, the end of the year looks set to bring investors a series of strong reports on the consumer class and economic growth. All with lower taxes coming up in 2018. These are the good times for the U.S. economy during this cycle. Enjoy them while they last.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

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