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Investing Specialists

Ultimate Stock-Pickers' Top 10 Buys and Sells

Top managers continue to find opportunities for new-money purchases (albeit fewer than in past periods), while taking full advantage of a rising stock market to book some gains.

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By Greggory Warren, CFA | Senior Stock Analyst

As we noted in our last article, the U.S. equity markets finished 2014 on a high note, with the S&P 500 TR Index notching an overall gain of 13.7%. This was in spite of elevated levels of geopolitical tension (both in the Middle East and in the Ukraine), a growing crisis in the European Union (ahead of the Greek elections), and concerns about the economic future of Europe and China. A steep drop in crude oil prices--from $91 per barrel at the end of the third quarter of last year to $53 per barrel at the end of the fourth quarter--gave the U.S. economy, which already posted better-than-expected GDP growth of 5% during the third quarter, an additional boost, with household consumption increasing at a 4% annualized rate during the fourth quarter. It also led to a spike in the stock prices of firms in non-oil-related industries that are affected by changes in energy prices, which not only offset the drop in the prices of oil services stocks but contributed to a 5% increase in the S&P 500 during the final three months of 2014.

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The Morningstar Ultimate Stock-Pickers Team does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.