Dow, S&P kick off New Year notching new all-time highs

The major United States stock indexes opened at new record levels before drifting into negative territory, as investors remain cautiously optimistic about US and global economic recoveries fuelled by COVID-19 vaccines.

The major United States stock indexes kicked off 2021 with plus-side jumps to record levels before edging downwards, as investors remain cautiously optimistic that vaccine roll-outs and a new round of coronavirus relief aid from Congress will drive a strong US economic recovery this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 21 points at the open of trading on Wall Street to 30,627.47 – a record – and climbed slightly higher before drifting into negative territory.

The S&P 500 index, seen as a gauge for the health of US retirement and college savings plans, rose 8.5 points or 0.23 percent to start 2021 at 3,764.61 – also a record level – only to slide into the red.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose more than 70 points or 0.54 percent at the start of trading.

Monday’s positive opens happened as COVID-19 cases surge across the US and parts of the globe, and countries brace for a punishing few months ahead as government officials order business-sapping restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. A disappointing vaccine launch in the US – as well as a new, more highly contagious strain of COVID-19 – are also sparking concerns.

But investors are balancing these harsh realities against hopes that better times could lie ahead for both the US and global economies as well as corporate profits, as inoculations against COVID-19 drive a return to business as usual.

Investors in US stock markets are also awaiting the outcome of Tuesday’s Senate runoff elections in Georgia. If the Democratic contenders can manage to win both seats, it would set the stage for President-elect Joe Biden to more easily push through his economic agenda – including more robust financial lifelines for struggling US households and businesses.

Wall Street is also keeping an eye on Friday, when the closely watched monthly employment report for December will drop.

Among stocks making headlines on Monday were shares of Tesla, which continued their relentless rise, jumping more than five percent to yet a new record in early morning trading in New York. On Saturday, the electric vehicle maker reported 2020 sales that fell short of founder and CEO Elon Musk’s half-a-million-unit target, but still managed to beat Wall Street’s estimates.

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