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The Markets – as of market close November 30, 2020

December 19, 2020

mature man reading a tablet at home
Despite a downturn on the last day of the month, stocks rebounded impressively in November. Several of the benchmark indexes reached record highs last month as investors shifted slightly from tech stocks to shares influenced by economic cycles.

While the presidential election, COVID-19, and additional fiscal stimulus dominated the news throughout November, stocks seemed immune. Instead, investors pinned their hopes on the development of a virus vaccine and a quick economic recovery.

Employment data in October showed 638,000 new jobs added and the unemployment rate dip to 6.9%,  However, when November numbers are finalized, with the uptick in COVID-19 cases, both figures may have reversed course last month with fewer new jobs created, possibly driving the unemployment rate higher.

Despite this, the Dow enjoyed its best month since 1987, and the small caps of the Russell 2000 surged ahead by nearly 20.0%. In fact, each of the benchmark indexes posted double-digit monthly gains.

Gross domestic product rebounded in the third quarter and job growth continued. Personal income and consumer spending continued to climb. Inflation remained muted and below the Federal Reserve’s 2.0% target. Sales of existing homes advanced, while new home sales lagged.

Among market sectors, energy, financials, industrials, and materials surged. Communication services and information technology posted moderate gains, and utilities fell.

Year to date, each of the indexes listed here is ahead of its respective 2019 closing value. The Nasdaq is 35.96% ahead of last year’s pace, followed by the S&P 500, the Russell 2000, the Dow, and the Global Dow.

By the close of trading on November 30, the price of crude oil was $45.11 per barrel, well above its October 30 price of $35.61. The national average retail regular price for gasoline was $2.10 on November 23, $0.48 cents per gallon less than a year ago. The price of gold sank last month, closing at $1,779.00 on November 30, down from its October 30 closing price of $1,878.00.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met in early November.  The Committee plans to maintain an accommodative monetary policy stance until maximum employment and 2.0% inflation are achieved over the longer run and decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0.0% to 0.25%.  In its official statement following that meeting, the FOMC noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world, economic activity and employment have continued to recover but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year.