Dow, S&P 500 Score Record Closes as 2020 Comes to an End

Jobless claims data came in better-than-expected for the week

Digital Content Manager
Dec 31, 2020 at 4:50 PM
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The Dow and S&P 500 finished the last day of 2020 with record closes, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite locked in its best year since 2009 in the final half hour of trading. Additionally, all three major indexes scored monthly and weekly wins, as one of the most volatile years in the history of Wall Street came to an end. While better-than-expected jobless claims data seemed to contribute to today's rise, recent COVID-19 and stimulus developments kept a tight lid on further gains for most of the day.

That marks an impressive comeback from steep lows in February and March, when the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a sudden stop. However, economic relief efforts and vaccine developments helped stocks regain their footing. Looking back, both the tech and consumer discretionary sectors were by far the strongest performers of the year.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

  • Tribune Publishing stock surges after new buyout offer.
  • These 4 cannabis stocks could be smoking hot in 2021.
  • Plus, ENPH set to join S&P 500; a shipping stock for options bulls; and is GPS the best retail stock right now?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 30,606.48) added 196.9 points, or 0.7% for the day, and 1.3% for the week. Intel (INTC) led the Dow winners with a 2.2% rise, while Boeing (BA) paced the laggards with a 1.2% drop. It tacked on 3.3% for December and added 7.2% on the year.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (SPX - 3,756.07) rose 24 points, or 0.6% for the day, and 1.5% for the week. It secured a 3.8% monthly rise, and ended 2020 up 16.4%. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 12,888.28) jumped 18.3 points, or 0.1% for the day, and 0.7% for the week. It added 5.7% in December and 43.7% for 2020.

Lastly, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX - 22.75) lost 0.02 point, or 0.1% for the day, and 5.7% for the week. Wall Street's "fear gauge" gained 10.6% in December and 65% year-to-date.

 Closing Summary Dec 31

nyse nasdaq dec 31

  1. West Virginia health officials mistakenly gave 42 people Regeneron's (REGN) COVID-19 antibody cocktail instead of Moderna's (MRNA) vaccine. All patients who received the accidental treatment have been contacted, and it is believed there is no risk of harm. (CNBC)
  2. The U.K. now has enough doses to cover its entire population, after approving AstraZeneca's (AZN) vaccine with the University of Oxford  (MarketWatch) 
  3. Enphase Energy stock surges after announcing plans to join the S&P 500.
  4. Options bulls should keep tabs on this outperforming shipping stock.
  5. Is Gap stock the best retail name to buy going into the new year?

There were no notable earnings reports today.

 UVOLDec31

Gold Prices Log Best Year Since 2010

Oil prices finished the last day of 2020 slightly higher on the day, though the black gold wound up registering an over 20% yearly loss, as virus-related restrictions and strict social distancing measures slashed demand for the commodity. And while the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) meets on Monday, it is expected to further ease output curbs and add 500,000 barrels a day to the global supply. February-dated crude added 12 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $48.52 per barrel for the day, with a 7% monthly gain. 

Gold prices ended slightly higher, too, locking in their best year since 2010 with a nearly 25% rise. A continued weakening of the U.S. dollar contributed even further to the commodity's overall appeal, which has benefitted from the uncertainties brought by the pandemic over the past year. In turn, February-dated gold added $1.70, or 0.1% for the day, to settle at $1,895.10 an ounce. For the week, prices were up almost 0.5%, and in December they settled 6.3% higher.

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