US Economy –
The strength of the American economy picked up steam in the 3rd quarter of 2013 with a final GDP estimate of 4.1%, about double the average of the last few years. It is further estimated that the 4th quarter GDP (despite the short government shutdown) also exceeded 3%. Unemployment has dropped to 7.0% and consumer sentiment is back up to 82.5 (Reuters/University of M), up from a November dip of 75.1. This in turn has led the Fed to finally announce the start of tapering to their long-term interest rate support/bond buying program. This positive economic news was welcomed by Wall Street and pushed the S&P 500 further, up 32% for the year, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond crept back up to its high for the year, near 3%.