Once a year, the Earth’s northern pole reaches the maximum tilt away from the Sun. It is a day we call the “winter solstice,” and when it occurs, the Sun is at its lowest height in the sky, causing it to be the shortest day and the longest night of the year. This year, the winter solstice will be on December 21st at 4:48 pm EST.
The winter solstice has played an important role throughout history across cultures worldwide. For example, archaeologists believe ancient sites such as Stonehenge were carefully aligned with the winter solstice sunrise/sunset. Many symbols, rituals, and traditions of the old solstice celebrations remain with us today. For instance, lighting many lights to brighten the longest night, usher in a “rebirth of the sun,” and encourage longer days are evident in modern holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah.
Just as people over the ages have used the solstice to turn the page on the dark days of midwinter, market participants look forward to putting the dark days of 2022 behind them. But, if November is any indication, that turn may already be happening.
Markets have rallied, buoyed by positive developments in easing supply-chain bottlenecks, data suggesting consumer prices are rising more slowly than in recent months, and signaling from policymakers that the Fed plans to dial back the pace of interest-rate increases. As a result, the S&P 500 continued its rebound from early October lows, climbing 5.59% for the month while still down -13.10% year-to-date.
Recent studies suggest that fluctuating temperatures, day length, and sunlight levels can sway investor behavior and help explain optimism-fueled seasonal market fluctuations such as “Santa Claus rallies” and “the January effect.” While those kinds of markets tend to be short-lived, the impact of the more significant fiscal and monetary policies currently at work is not. Hope abounds that the macroeconomic picture will become brighter as the winter solstice brings lighter days, and market participants will be rewarded for their patience through darker days with sunnier results over time.
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Travel is back, and borders have reopened pretty much everywhere. The strong U.S. dollar means American vacationers will find more affordable prices in Europe, Japan, Mexico, India, and beyond. Here is a list of destinations to consider for 2023 curated by the folks at Frommer’s.
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