Local stocks did well, too, albeit less so. Our Valley 50 stock index – a mashup of biggest public companies in our area – went up about 11 percent for the year. Our index was weighed down by the many problems of our largest company, Walt Disney Co. Its stock managed only a meager gain of 2 percent. But we did have several standouts including Avery Dennison Corp., whose stock went up 64 percent, and Teledyne Technologies, up 47 percent. (For more on local stocks, see the story on page 4.)

Amgen Inc., the biggest company in the area after Disney, saw its stock go up 15 percent. That may seem a bit underwhelming considering the overall gains in the market, but it speaks to the industry Amgen is in. You know, it just struck me that I shouldn’t be apologizing for a 15 percent gain. If the stock did that every year, you’d double your money in five years and triple it in eight. Amgen did just fine.

The markets’ rise is important not just for the wealth it created for companies and individuals in 2017. It is also noteworthy because stocks are forward looking. They traditionally are considered augurs of the future economy. In other words, the markets in 2017 told us that 2018 and 2019 appear promising. It’s a more hopeful sign than we’ve seen in years.

To be sure, California has some obstacles, economically. There are several new laws that make it more difficult for employers to hire people. (See the op-ed on the opposite page.) And the through-the-roof housing prices make it increasingly difficult to attract outside talent and keep residents here, among other challenges.

Still, the rising tide of the economy lifts all boats, and – fingers crossed – the new year will be even better than the last.

Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at ccrumpley@sfvbj.com.

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