Stock Market Today: Stocks Stumble Out of the Blocks to Start 2021

The major indices spilled plenty of red ink Monday as investors mulled the consequences of Georgia's upcoming senatorial runoffs, as well as continued COVID woes.

A businessman slips on a banana peel
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Investors wouldn't have been blamed for wondering, if even only for a moment, whether they had too eagerly kissed 2020 goodbye.

The 2021 trading year got off to an inauspicious start, with the major indices lurching lower Monday amid peaking political uncertainty and continued COVID-related pressures.

"Investors are feeling antsy this week," says Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist for Ally Invest. "COVID cases continue to spike, with a new variant of the virus spreading across the globe. Tomorrow's runoff races in Georgia could decide the makeup of the Senate, and the market generally has performed better in a split Congress (the situation we have now)."

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She points out that the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spiked above 28 today – "a level not seen since the presidential election in November."

By lunchtime, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had slumped by as much as 724 points (-2.4%) to below the 30,000 mark. While it climbed from its lows, the industrial average still suffered a 382-point (1.3%) tumble to 30,223. The Dow was weighed down most by Boeing (BA (opens in new tab), -5.3%), the average's worst stock in 2020 (opens in new tab), and Coca-Cola (KO (opens in new tab), -3.8%).

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 closed 1.5% lower to 3,700.
  • The Nasdaq Composite suffered a similar decline to 12,698.
  • The small-cap Russell 2000 also slipped 1.5% to finish Monday at 1,945.
  • U.S. crude oil futures slid by 1.9% to $47.62 per barrel.
  • Gold futures jumped 2.7% to $1,946.60 per ounce.
  • Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab)) bucked the market trend, gaining 3.4% after reporting record Q4 vehicle deliveries and hitting nearly half a million deliveries across 2020. The company momentarily eclipsed $700 billion in market value Monday.
  • Bitcoin, which closed out 2020 around $29,000, hit $34,810 over the weekend before pulling back to $31,600 during Monday's trade.

stock chart for 010421

Don't Let Your Imagination Run Wild Yet

Fortunately, Monday was just one trading day out of 252 this year. And, like in baseball, no one should sweat an 0-1 start. In fact, Bell points out that it's effectively a coin flip as to whether the stock market will finish the year up or down following a first-day decline.

Bell also suggests that "selloffs like these could be a good opportunity to buy some stocks on your wish list or rebalance the investments you already have."

Your head might naturally go to value stocks when thinking about dip-buying – especially when many analysts are preaching the gospel of value stocks (opens in new tab). But ignore the better prices on growth stocks at your own peril. Many bullish value calls note that growth won't be stymied for too long, so you could do well to identify growth prospects worth snapping up amid turbulence before they recover later this year.

Consider the following list of 11 tenacious growth stocks (opens in new tab) – companies whose revenues are stretching like weeds and who are getting much better at turning those sales into profits. They might take you on a bumpy ride early in 2021, but we like their chances to drive outsize portfolio gains for you down the road.

Kyle Woodley was long BA and Bitcoin as of this writing.

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.