Dow, S&P 500 hit record highs on final day of trading in 2020

A sign for Wall Street hangs outside at the New York Stock Exchange on April 20. Stocks were down Friday morning ahead of President Donald Trump's news conference on China. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Jan. 1 (UPI) — The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 rose to record highs at the end of trading on Thursday to close 2020.

The Dow rose 196.92 points, or 0.65%, to close at a record 30,606.48 while the S&P 500 rose 0.64% to 3,756.07 points. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.14%.

Intel stock rose 2.19% to lead the Dow higher, while the S&P 500’s financials and utilities sectors each rose more than 1% to propel the index to a year-end gain.

While the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the stock market early in the year, all three benchmarks closed with gains for a second consecutive year.

“2020 is coming to an end. Unfortunately, 2021 is going to start out looking a lot like 2020, but hopefully, by the end of the year, it’s looking more like something better,” Bespoke Investment Group co-founder Paul Hickey wrote in a note to clients.

Equities fell in February and March at the onset of the pandemic, however, the Federal Reserve stepped in to shore up credit markets, leading to a strong rebound through the end of the year.

Despite modest gains on Thursday, the Nasdaq was the best performing index in 2020, gaining 43.6% for the year, it’s best one-year performance since 2009, as tech stocks soared amid the pandemic.

The S&P 500 has gained 16.3% in a volatile 2020 that saw it close up or down at least 1% on 110 of the 253 trading days, compared to 38 days in 2019, including two rallies of more than 9% and a drop of 12% in March.

Rounding out the three benchmarks was the Dow, which rose 7.3% in 2020.

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