Benchmarks Hit Records in Dramatic First Week of 2021

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both hit psychologically significant levels

Assistant Editor
Jan 8, 2021 at 1:57 PM
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Although the new year started slow, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and S&P 500 Index (SPX) pulling back from record highs and logging their worst single-session drops since late October, the rest of the first week trading of 2021 went much smoother on Wall Street, all things considered. Though stocks looked to extend their losses Tuesday morning, manufacturing data gave the major indexes a boost to end the day higher. On Wednesday came news that private payrolls decreased for the first time since April, as well as later news that Democrats won the Georgia runoff election to take control of the Senate, and 10-year Treasury note yield topped 1% for the first time since March.

However, the unfortunate and overwhelming news of the day resided in Washington D.C., as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as lawmakers began to count the Electoral College votes that formally declared President-elect Joe Biden victorious. Despite this, the Dow closed at another record high. The big gains continued on Thursday, with the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) toppling the 13,000 mark for the first time, while the SPX broke above 3,800 -- another psychologically significant level. As we near the end of the week, all three benchmarks are headed for weekly wins, despite jobs data showing that for December, the U.S. economy unexpectedly lost 140,000 jobs -- the first time this has occurred since April of 2020.

Blue-Chip Stocks Making Moves

Plenty of blue chip names were in focus to start the new year. Two major deals occurred on Wednesday, with Walgreens Boot Alliance (WBA) announcing it was selling its Alliance Healthcare businesses to AmerisourceBergen (ABC), and UnitedHealth Group (UNH) acquiring Change Healthcare (CHNG) for $7.84 billion in cash. On Thursday, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) was boosted by a couple bull notes, with Bank of America Securities calling the stock "best-in-class." On Friday, Boeing (BA) agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in settlement money to the U.S. Justice Department.

Treasury Yields Boost Major Banks

JPMorgan Chase wasn't the only bank stock in the spotlight, either, as its "big four" peer Citigroup (C) rose to pre-pandemic levels ahead of next week's earnings report. The whole bank sector received a boost from higher treasury yields, and Bank of America (BAC) saw notable options activity amid its surge. 

Earnings Season Around the Corner

The second week of the year will bring a few notable earnings reports from Aphria (APHA), BlackRock (BLK), and Delta Air Lines (DAL), as well as big name banks Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), PNC (PNC), and Wells Fargo (WFC). And as you prepare for the month ahead, here are the best January performers, historically. Plus, keep an eye on this SPX pattern, and what it just did for the fourth time since 1929. And in the spirit of the new year, make sure to check out our best options trades of 2020, as well as the stocks we're buying in 2021. 

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