FAST START: Stocks are up 5 percent this year, and there a signs that investors are finally getting comfortable with the market. The Standard & Poor's 500 index on Thursday climbed above 1,500 points for the first time in more than five years.
CLIFF AVERTED: One catalyst is the Jan. 1 deal between Congress and the White House to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff."
STRATEGIST'S OUTLOOK: Bruce Herring, a chief investment officer with Fidelity Investments, believes stocks offer strong growth potential because investors face far fewer economic and political uncertainties than they did a few years ago.
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