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Russell 3000 Index Hits Highest Level Since 2008

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The Russell 3000 Index closed at a new 52-week high on Monday of 743.49, the company announced Tuesday. This is the highest value for the Russell 3000, a broad-market, U.S. Index, since Sept. 3, 2008.

The Index, which represents approximately 98% of the investable U.S. equity market, according to the company, has seen a "modest rise since its 5-year low on March 6, 2009, when the Index hit 393.85." As of Dec. 20, the Index has posted a year-to-date return of 15.92%.

One of the reasons for the recovery, according to Steve Wood (left), chief market strategist for Russell, could be regulation.

"The Federal Reserve and European central banks have done a good job restoring capital markets," he said. The Federal Reserve believes in "ABD," or "anything but deflation," according to Wood, and wants the world to believe – and behave – as if we're in an inflationary environment, rather than deflationary.

Also adding to the recovery is investors' access to higher quality information.

"Investors have stable data and stable forecasts," he said, adding that investors have a more normalized forecast environment than they've been able to rely on in the past.

Wood refered to an old adage that says "only new information moves the market." The lingering conditions of unemployment and a poor housing market are drags on the market, but there's a "measurable upward trend in data that we've seen for well over two quarters," Wood said. "New information appears to be positive."

While 2011 may be a new year, Wood said, advisors shouldn't expect a "new narrative." Those lingering conditions, like unemployment and a bad housing market, haven't finished playing out. "We're not talking quarters, we're talking years," Wood warned.

Still, corporate America is doing "very well," he said, and "capital markets are flowing." Even potential problems in global markets are tempered by stabilizing conditions in Germany, for example. Wood called China a "wild card," noting that the tightening regime implemented in 2010 could play out in 2011, allowing China to contribute more to the recovery.

The U.S. economy could hold some pleasant surprises, yet. While we may not see the 4% to 6% improvement we want, 3.5% is still better than zero, Wood pointed out.


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