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Market Update for the Quarter Ending December 31, 2020

Strong December caps off solid year for markets

Markets continued to rally in the final month of 2020. The Nasdaq Composite led the way with a 5.71 percent gain for the month. The S&P 500 gained 3.84 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose by 3.41 percent. These results contributed to a strong quarter for markets. The Nasdaq once again led with a 15.63 percent quarterly return. The S&P 500 gained 12.15 percent while the DJIA managed a 10.73 percent return. Despite the market volatility in March and April, all three major indices finished the year in positive territory. The DJIA gained 9.72 percent for the year, and the S&P 500 returned 18.40 percent. The Nasdaq, with its heavy technology weighting, ended the year with a 44.92 percent gain.

Medical Risks Show Signs of Improvement, Markets Continue to Rally

As expected, the seasonal holidays have affected the pandemic indicators. The COVID-19 case rate appeared to pull back, but that is likely due to slower reporting than an actual decline in cases. Looking forward, travel and gatherings over the holidays may well result in another surge of cases. That said, however, the signs of improvement are real.

The CARES Act Student Loan Relief Options: Who Benefits and How?

In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. On August 8, 2020, a presidential memorandum was signed to provide an extension of this relief through December 31, 2020. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced an additional extension of this relief through January 31, 2021. The CARES Act encompasses a number of provisions that offer relief for student loan borrowers. If you have a student loan, here’s what you need to know.

 

CARES Act Unemployment Benefits, as Extended in December 2020

Unemployment Benefits Basics

The U.S. Department of Labor sets the national standards for unemployment benefits, and each state processes applications and determines its residents’ eligibility through its own program. Generally, most states have a one-week waiting period before eligibility for unemployment benefits begins, limit the length of unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, and require proof that an applicant is actively looking for a new job. There is no amount of unemployment benefits set by federal law, and the amount received by an unemployed individual varies by state.

New Changes to PPP and EIDL Loan Programs

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created to provide loans to support small businesses and save jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. New legislation seeks to offer opportunities for qualifying businesses to receive a first or second forgivable PPP loan.

FAQs: What You Need to Know About the Second Round of Stimulus Checks

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, into law. In addition to funding the U.S. government through September 2021, the Act provides additional relief for Americans who have been struggling since the first COVID-19 stimulus package was passed in March. The new law provides $900 billion in assistance to individuals and businesses, as well as funding for testing, tracing, and vaccine distribution. One of its most notable aspects is a second round of stimulus checks that will be sent to many Americans. Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about these checks.

Understanding the New Stimulus Bill

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, into law (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”), with large portions of the bill acting as an economic stimulus for individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation (the second major congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic) is intended to provide immediate and ongoing economic relief to individuals and businesses affected by the crisis. At more than 5,000 pages, the bill contains provisions relating to a broad variety of topics. This summary is intended to address only the critical provisions for individuals and small businesses.

How Durable Is the Economic Recovery?

Although new cases of the virus are still high, the seven-day daily average was down for two days in the past week. As such, we may be close to a peak. This conclusion seems reasonable as much of the Thanksgiving travel surge should be starting to play out, and control measures are becoming more widespread.

Weekly Market Update, December 21, 2020

General Market News

  • Last week saw a moderate steepening of the yield curve as lawmakers moved closer to a potential stimulus package and the Moderna vaccine was approved. The 10-year Treasury yield opened the week at 0.93 percent and closed just shy of 0.95 percent. This morning, it opened just below 0.90 percent, down 3 basis points (bps) from last week’s open. The 30-year opened this morning at 1.64 percent, a loss of 3 bps from last week’s open of 1.67 percent. On the shorter end of the curve, we saw a sizable move as the 2-year opened last week at 0.121 percent and rose one-fifth of a basis point to 0.123 percent this morning. The bond market signals investors were cautiously optimistic heading into the weekend.