Month in Brief
A tumultuous year ended on a positive note as stocks rose in December, spurred by the rollout of multiple COVID-19 vaccines and the signing of a new fiscal relief bill.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which lagged all year, picked up 3.27 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 3.71 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 5.65 percent.1
Vaccines Take Center Stage
Investors were buffeted by news of rising infections and new lockdowns even as they kept a close eye on the start of vaccine distribution in the U.K., which some observers referred to as “the beginning of the end” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boost from the Stimulus Package
Much like November, stocks rallied when Congress made progress on the new fiscal stimulus bill but pulled back as talks seemed to stall. After some posturing, President Trump signed the new law, which helped stocks surge in the final week of trading.
All Eyes on the Election
As investors grappled with these headline issues, markets also saw several new and secondary equity offerings, including two high-profile technology initial public offerings (IPOs) during the month. This year, companies raised over $167 billion in IPOs, blowing past the record of $107.9 billion set in 1999.2
What Investors May Be Talking About in January
After the November election, markets rallied due to initial tallies that seemed to point to a potentially divided government, which historically has been a positive for the equity markets.4
However, Georgia’s two Senate seats remain undecided and will go to a special election this month.
Ultimately, this runoff will determine which party controls the Senate and may give insight into the future legislative agenda of the incoming Biden administration.
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1. The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2020
2. The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2020