Wall Street on Thursday is looking forward to a farewell to a pandemic-stricken year in the last trading day of 2020.
U.S. stock markets, energy
and gold futures
will be open for the full trading day on New Year’s Eve, while the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association recommends a 2 p.m. close for trading in bonds, including the 10-year Treasury note
Most global financial markets will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day.
Equity markets are aiming to wrap up December, the fourth quarter and 2020 on a high note after a historic, gut-wrenching year that will go down in the annals of financial-market history.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
is set to close out the month up 2.6%, with a 6.6% year-to-date gain so far, and a 9.5% rise over the final three months of the year, according to FactSet data.
The S&P 500 index
is looking at a 3.1% advance in December and a 15.5% annual return, aided by an 11% surge in the quarter, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
is on track for a 5.5% rally on the month and a 43% year-to-date rise, with a 15.25% gain since the start of October.
Perhaps even more impressive, the small-capitalization Russell 2000 index
has gained 8.8% in December and nearly 19% in the year to date, capped by a record-setting return in the final three months of the year of more than 31%.
Still, the economic and emotional toll in a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic has been great, and is likely to continue into 2021. It’s unclear what lies ahead as the viral spread continues even as vaccines from Pfizer
are being rolled out.
The U.S. set a fresh record for hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 124,686 patients in U.S. hospitals, breaking the record set on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the first cases of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus were found in Colorado and California.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in cases, at 19.6 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, and fatalities, at 340,004, or about a fifth of the global tally for each.
The path forward looks like a challenging one, but American businesses and workers are looking to bring more fight to the battle in the coming year, with market participants also harboring tons of optimism.