Last week's market rally pushed the Washington Post Bloomberg regional stock index to record highs on each of the last four days of the year, making up for an otherwise mediocre year.
The regional index, which represents stocks of more than 200 companies based in the District, Maryland and Virginia, closed at 185.19 on Friday, up 3.9 percent for the week.
The strong finish left the average local stock up 9.5 percent for the year, but that average overstates the gain for most stocks. Roughly 60 percent of the local issues actually are down over the last 12 months, but those broad losses were made up for by a cadre of spectacular performers.
Last week's winners included three of the year's strongest stocks -- Eplus Inc., American Mobile Satellite Corp. and U.S.-China Industrial Exchange Inc. -- and another pair of companies that reflect one of the key trends of 1999.
Shares of ITC Learning Corp. and Tessco Technology Inc. took big jumps even though neither of the companies made any news. Both stocks are thinly traded, so even a little demand can bump up the price.
The week's losers, on the other hand, were mostly familiar names -- a couple of the year's biggest losers and a couple of stocks whose tentative gains tempted investors to take their money and run.
Kaiser Group International Inc. and U.S. Office Products Co. are among a group of stocks that have been brutalized in the last month by investors bailing out before year-end so they can claim tax deductions. While the regional index was hitting new highs daily last week, U.S. Office shares were falling every day.
On the other hand, shares of Treev Inc. and Cybercash Inc. had decent gains for the year but have yet to develop the kind of following that makes them long-term investments. So year-end was the time to sell.