Dow and S&P 500 Close at Records on Last Trading Day of 2020

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted record closes on Thursday, the last trading day of 2020, as a volatile year, brutally disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, came to a close.

The Dow finished up 196 points, or 0.65%, to 30,606.48, while the S&P 500 was up 0.64% to 3,756.07 and the Nasdaq ticked up 0.14% to 12,888.28.

Both the Dow and the S&P reached intraday highs as well.

For the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 7.2%. It finished 2019 at 28,538.44.

The S&P 500 rose 16.3% in 2020, having finished 2019 at 3,230.78.

And the Nasdaq Composite advanced 43.6% this year. It closed 2019 at 8,972.60. 

On Wednesday stocks had finished modestly higher and the Dow closed at a record.

Initial jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 787,000 in the week ending Dec. 26, the Labor Department said, the second straight decline.

Wall Street was expecting initial jobless claims to rise to 828,000. The prior week’s total was upwardly revised by 3,000 to 806,000.

“Initial jobless claims dropped a bit, but at levels this high and with margins of error this big, they’re essentially stuck at a painful, inflated level due to the coronavirus surge,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

As long as that surge continues, Frick said, “even with stimulus, we can expect more than 1 million Americans will lose their jobs weekly, based on state and federal measures.”

On the political front, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer {D-New York) said that Democrats would allow for votes limiting a liability shield for tech companies and establishing a commission to examine the 2020 election if the GOP agreed to hold a separate up-or-down vote on sending $2,000 checks to most Americans, CNBC reported.

President Donald Trump had demanded Congress move on all three issues when he agreed to sign a $900 billion Covid-19 relief package, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has dismissed the $2,000 direct payments as “socialism for the rich.”

The number of confirmed global deaths from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, rose to almost 1.81 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Cases of the virus across the world have risen to 83.1 million.

The U.S. death toll is 343,030, the most in the world. The number of confirmed infected people in the U.S. was 19.8 million.

There were 201,555 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. on Wednesday and a record 3,725 deaths, according to data from the university.

A highly contagious variant of the coronavirus that has been spreading through the U.K. was discovered in California, a day after authorities in Colorado confirmed the strain was found in a man in his 20s. 

Health officials in Colorado also have identified a second possible case of the new strain. Experts have said that existing vaccines should be effective against the new strain.

Exxon Mobil  (XOM) – Get Report indicated in a regulatory filing that it likely would record a fourth straight quarterly loss after taking a write-down of as much as $20 billion on its upstream assets. The energy major’s shares closed down nearly 1% at $41.01.

J.C. Penney Chief Executive Jill Soltau is leaving the retailer. The new owners of the chain, which emerged from bankruptcy proceedings earlier this month, have started the search for a new leader.

Simon Property Group  (SPG) – Get Report and Brookfield Asset Management  (BAM) – Get Report, the two U.S. mall owners that purchased Penney in the fall, said they were looking for a leader “focused on modern retail, the consumer experience, and the goal of creating a sustainable and enduring J.C. Penney.”

The stock exchanged will be closed on Jan. 1. U.S. bond markets closed at 2 p.m. on Thursday, and no trading will take place on New Year’s Day.