US stocks were higher on Thursday, the last trading day of 2020. Volatility best describes the movement of stocks during the year. Technology and stay at home stocks outperformed, and several sectors underperformed. The Nasdaq 100 rallied more than 47% in 2020, while the S&P 500 was up slightly more than 15%. The Energy sector was the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 in 2020, declining by more than 32%. The technology sector was the best performing sector rising by 43%. The US labor market improved from its COVID lows, with jobless claims declining in the last week of the year. The biggest issue facing investors in the beginning of 2021, will be the vote for the two empty Georgia Senate Seats. If both of those seats go to Democrats, they will control the Senate and likely put through some legislation that will be unfavorable for the markets.
Jobless Claims Drop More than Expected
According to the Labor Department Expectations, initial jobless claims declined by 19,000 to 787,000 in the week ended December 26 for initial jobless claims to rise to 828,000. The previous week’s total for initial claims was upwardly revised by 3,000 to 806,000. Continuing claims, fell by 103,000 to 5.219 million for the week of December 19. Data on continuing claims runs on a one-week lag to the initial claims numbers. The four-week moving average for first-time filers rose by 17,750 to 836,750, signaling the labor market is still under pressure as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.