It was “green across the screen” last week as the Dow (+2.2%), NASDAQ (+3.3%) and S&P 500 (+2.3%) were all up sharply, and increasing the November rally in stocks above 10% for all three indices. Taxable and tax-free muni bonds were also up fractionally last week, and also extended their gains by about 2% for the month. That is a great combination for diversified investment portfolios. Investors should be delighted with their November statements, as they appear to be up about 4% (conservative) to 10% (more aggressive) for the month of November. The indices also surpassed key milestones last week, as the Dow exceeded 30,000 for the first time (despite closing slightly below it on Friday) and the NASDAQ exceeded 12,000.
Despite the increase in number of COVID cases, the optimism lies in the fact that two companies (and soon to be a third company) have announced their discovery of vaccines with a 95% efficacy, and it appears that the first round of vaccinations to front line workers may be as soon as mid-December. Further, widespread vaccinations are anticipated to be distributed in Spring 2021. This is all good news, as this helps exhibit hope that the economy will gain firm footing again in mid-2021. Remember that the stock market is a leading indicator, and is representative of where the economy may be in 3 to 6 months. However, I believe that we still have a couple hurdles to clear before being that enthusiastic. There continues to be a concern that the recent spike in COVID cases could cause governments to shut down businesses and economic activity, and the results of the presidential and Senate elections still aren’t official. I would feel a whole lot more comfortable with the stock market once we clear those hurdles, so then we can re-focus our attention on the economic fundamentals that have otherwise been improving.