U.S. stock futures were muted on the last trading day of the year, indicating a quiet finish in a year of repeated records on Wall Street on low interest rates and the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
Futures for the S&P 500 edged down less than 0.1% Friday. The broad-market index finished slightly lower Thursday but is on course to finish the year about 27% higher, which would be its largest annual percentage gain since 2019. Contracts for the tech-focused Nasdaq-100 and futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average each ticked almost 0.1% lower Friday.
The calm trading Friday juxtaposes a busy year in markets in which individual investors piled into meme stocks and the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and low interest rates incentivized investments in equities. These factors helped lead the S&P 500 to close at a record 70 times this year, more than a quarter of all trading days, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Much of the broader market rally was also driven by a small group of massive stocks, such as
Microsoft and Tesla shares have each risen more than 50% this year, while Apple has gained more than 30%.
“This is really the year of the economic recovery,” said Sean Markowicz, an investment strategist at Schroders. “In 2022, I see growth cooling as the massive policy stimulus in response to the pandemic fades.”
Investors are watching a number of risks heading into 2022 that could derail the market’s rally. Cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are surging, causing some businesses to curtail services and hours as workers call in sick. U.S. inflation reached a nearly four-decade high last month, raising questions about how many price increases Americans can absorb and if that will affect corporate earnings. The Federal Reserve has also set the stage for a series of interest-rate increases beginning next spring.
In bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from 1.514% Thursday. The yield rose 0.601 percentage points this year as of Thursday, the largest one-year yield gain since 2013, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Investors have sold out of government bonds, pushing up yields, because holding bonds that yield less than inflation means locking in a loss. Yields and prices move inversely.
Overseas, the pan-continental…
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