Market Matters from November 2020

December 9, 2020

With promising news on a vaccine, a projected divided Congress, and a strong third quarter for companies in the S&P 500, the markets saw a strong rally in November. However, what’s next for stock prices will likely depend on the manufacturing and distribution of a vaccine as well as the economic impact of positive COVID-19 continuing in the interim. Details on market matters from November 2020 can be found below.

U.S. Markets
Stock prices powered higher and emboldened investors in November thanks to a series of positive news events.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has lagged much of the year, led the rally, jumping 11.84 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tacked on 10.75 percent while the Nasdaq Composite rose 11.80 percent.1

All Eyes on the Election
Stocks opened the month strong, climbing throughout election week as bargain-hunting investors appeared to swoop in following a weak September and October.

While the immediate outcome of the presidential election was undecided, the projected results suggested a divided Congress, which investors interpreted as a productive environment for businesses.

Vaccine Booster
Stocks climbed higher on news of positive stage-three COVID-19 trial results that suggested a highly effective vaccine may be near at hand. Stocks that had been hurt by economic lockdowns surged on the news, while the stay-at-home stocks suffered steep declines. Bond yields and oil prices both moved higher on expectations of increased economic activity.

Positive momentum carried the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 index, and the Russell 2000 to record-high levels, with the Dow closing above the 30,000 mark.2

Companies Report Solid Quarter
While the U.S. election and progress on a coronavirus vaccine dominated the news cycle, companies in the S&P 500 reported solid earnings in the third quarter. As expected, the S&P 500 reported a year-over-year earnings of -6.3 percent. But when three hard-hit industries—energy, airlines, and hospitality—were excluded, earnings for S&P 500 companies grew by 4.3 percent.3

Sector Scorecard
All industry sectors moved higher in November, except Utilities, which fell 1.42 percent. The month saw strong gains in Communication Services (+7.34 percent), Consumer Discretionary (+5.49 percent), Consumer Staples (+3.95 percent), Energy (+34.54 percent), Financials (+17.50 percent), Health Care (+3.35 percent), Industrials (+14.74 percent), Materials (+12.50 percent), Real Estate (+5.96 percent), and Technology (+5.33 percent).4

What Investors May Be Talking About in December 
After such a powerful rally, investors may be asking themselves, “What’s next for stock prices?” Traders are expected to watch the trajectory of new COVID-19 infections and how they may influence economic activity over the coming weeks and months.

While investors recognize that there will be manufacturing and distribution challenges with approved vaccines, they may also be paying attention to when a vaccine may be available to the general public.

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