Escalating political unrest in Libya, a 6% spike in oil prices, and weak housing numbers all contributed to a stock market rout in mid-February -- the first big hit to U.S. stocks this year. It was the eighth day of anti-government protests in Libya, which produces about 2% of the world's oil, and investors feared that protests would hit other major oil providing countries. On top of this, a report from the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index showed the last quarter of 2010 turned out to be a dismal one for national home prices, which fell 4.1% from 2009.
Little did we know then that Muammar Qaddafi's days were numbered and that a 1.4% slide in the Dow would soon feel quaint.
There's good reason to be both optimistic and cautious as we ring in the New Year.
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