Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P 500 Go Out on Top

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 finished 2020 atop the mountain, notching record closes to cap an improbable year.

Concept art of New Year's Eve with a clock about to strike 12, fireworks and champagne
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As a trying and tragic 2020 comes to a close, the stock market provided one of the year's few silver linings.

Several of the major indices finished New Year's Eve with small gains, and two closed out the year at all-time highs. That capped off spectacular rallies from 2020's bear-market bottom and a year of improbably strong performance.

Investors had plenty to consider as they traded on New Year's Eve: a pandemic that remains uncontained as vaccines roll out nationwide; a Georgia run-off election that will determine control of the Senate; declining but still-high unemployment claims; and the possibility of more stimulus measures in 2021.

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Stocks finished the day mostly mixed, but gains from the likes of Intel (INTC (opens in new tab), +2.2%) and McDonald's (MCD (opens in new tab), +1.5%) helped the major blue-chip indices close out the year with small gains.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 0.7% higher to a record 30,606, marking a 7.3% gain for 2020.
  • The S&P 500, up 0.6% to a new all-time high of 3,756, finished the year 16.3% in the black.
  • The Nasdaq Composite closed up 0.1% to 12,888, capping a massive 43.6% rally that marked its best annual performance since 2009.
  • The Russell 2000 finished 0.3% lower to 1,974, but that still represented an 18.4% climb across 2020.

stock chart for 123120

Position Yourself for Success in 2021

With that, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year! But will the market acquiesce?

Most research houses are calling for continued stock gains in 2021, and Kiplinger's own forecast (opens in new tab) is for "high-single-digit to low-double-digit percentages."

The market should be helped by a recovery in corporate earnings: FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters says analysts are predicting a 21.8% jump in S&P 500 profits for 2021. "If 21.8% is the actual growth rate for the year, it will mark the largest annual earnings growth rate for the index since CY 2010 (39.6%)," he says.

The best way to take the reins of any opportunities in 2021, of course, is to be armed with the best investments. Check out all our market forecasts and stock and fund picks in Kiplinger's 2021 Investing Outlook (opens in new tab).

Whether you're looking for stocks (opens in new tab), exchange-traded funds (opens in new tab) or mutual funds (opens in new tab), you'll find a plethora of ideas to help you build your wealth in 2021 … and far beyond.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.