KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE: Stocks shot higher on Monday, the last day of the year, after five days of losses. Investors were betting that politicians in Washington would work out a compromise on the "fiscal cliff," though trading closed with no deal in hand.
THE END OF THE YEAR AS WE KNOW IT: Stocks had a strong year, despite anemic growth in the U.S. and a debt crisis in Europe. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished more than 13 percent higher, after being flat in 2011.
STOCKS TO NOTE: Homebuilder PulteGroup, appliance maker Whirlpool and Bank of America were some of the best performers on the stock market this year. They were partly making up for losses last year.