And just like that, there was just one trading day left in 2020.
The second-to-last day wasnâ€™t much to write home about. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 3732.04, its second-highest close of all time. while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.2% to 12870.00, also its second-highest close. Only the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which gained 73.89 points, or 0.2%, to 30,409.56, managed to close at a record.
It was hard to get too excited about any of it, though. The moves were small, the volume light, and the news lacking. And with so little new evidence to go onâ€”pending home sales fell, manufacturing activity in the Chicago area increased, and stimulus checks stuck at $600â€”there was really nothing to do but sit tight and let the year close out. Thatâ€™s continued a pattern since the start of the month. â€œDespite having what is turning out to be an outstanding year, since the beginning of December the market has been acting as if there is no clear path going forward,â€ writes Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth Management. â€œDay-to-day swings between sectors and between stylistic approaches tells me that market participants are questioning where we are within the economic cycle.â€
The new year will bring new risks, starting with the Georgia Senate runoff on Jan. 5, just one day after returning from the long New Year break.â€If Democrats Warnock and Ossoff can both win on January 5th, the prospects of additional stimulus will become a reality and send the dollar further into freefall and driving gold towards the mid-$1900s,â€ writes Oandaâ€™s Edward Moya. Stocks, however, could take a beating if it means higher taxes and more regulation.
For now, though, weâ€™re going to sit tight and pretend like nothing is happening.
Because nothing is.
Write to Ben Levisohn at Ben.Levisohn@barrons.com