Year ends with Dow up 27 percent; stocks recover from recession

Singing "Wait Til the Sun Shines, Nellie" on the last trading day of the year is a tradition for the New York Stock Exchange. It began as a way to lift traders' spirits during the Great Depression.

But spirits were already high today, after a remarkable run-up that recovered losses from the recession and then some.

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Singing "Wait Til the Sun Shines, Nellie" on the last trading day of the year is traditional at the New York Stock Exchange
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 Jonathan Corpina has worked the trading floor for 17 years.

If you kept your money in the market during those dark periods you would be doing pretty well right now.

"If you hit the reset button back when the market hit the lows, you've missed out on a great run that the market has had," Corpina said.

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Low interest rates pushed investors into stocks, and corporations saw earnings grow
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 The 500 biggest companies in America saw their collective stock value rise 29 percent, the fifth-largest increase in the S&P 500's history.

If you owned Netflix, your shares soared 296 percent. Best Buy saw a 237 percent increase. Even newcomer to the party, Twitter, was up 144 percent.

Low interest rates pushed investors into stocks, and corporations saw earnings grow as the economy gained traction.

"Consumer confidence, spending, retail, housing numbers -- all grouped together, these numbers have all moved in the right direction," Corpina said. 

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The 500 biggest companies in America saw their stock value rise 29 percent
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 Those numbers mean retirees are breathing a sigh of relief.

Ed Slewitsky met with his financial adviser. His portfolio ended up 17 percent.

"The year went great and my portfolio grew and I'm happy for that," he said.  "Somewhere down the line maybe I'll able to live a couple of extra years because of it."

The big losers this year? Bonds. They finished in negative territory for the first time in 14 years. Despite the bull market, most Americans are still bears. A recent Associated Press poll says 71 percent still think that investing is risky.