S&P Unchanged on Last Trading Day, Enjoys Big Yearly Gain

U.S. stocks finished their final trading session of the year lower, capping off a record-setting 2021 that came despite the persistent headwinds of COVID-19.

The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 59.78 points to 36,338.30.

The much-broader S&P 500 index slid 12.55 points to 4,766.18

The NASDAQ faded 96.59 points at 15,655.97.

A few top-performing names in the S&P 500 this year also led gainers in the index Friday. Ford Motor added 1.6%, bringing its year-to-date gain to around 137%. Signature Bank gained 1.3% to bring its 2021 run-up to roughly 139%.

The major averages are all up double-digits this year as the global economy began its recovery from the 2020 COVID lockdowns, while the Federal Reserve maintained supportive measures first implemented at the onset of the pandemic.

The S&P 500 is up 27.2% in 2021, putting the benchmark on pace for its third straight positive year. The Dow was 19.1%, and NASDAQ hurtled 21.8%, each achieving a three-year winning streak

Strong corporate earnings also boosted U.S. stocks. The estimated year-over-year earnings growth rate for 2021 is 45.1%, according to FactSet. That would mark the highest annual earnings growth rate for the index since FactSet began tracking the metric in 2008.

Energy and real estate have been the best-performing sectors in the S&P 500 this year, surging more than 40% each. Tech and financials are also up more than 30%. Home Depot and Microsoft have led the Dow gains, rising more than 50% each. Names like Alphabet, Apple, Meta Platforms and Tesla have led NASDAQ’s gains this year.

The gains come even as the COVID pandemic rages on, with variants like delta and, more recently, omicron leading to case outbreaks throughout the year. The U.S. has now recorded more than 53 million COVID cases and more than 820,000 deaths, according to CDC data as of Thursday.

Prices for 10-year Treasurys stayed the same, keeping yields at Thursday’s 1.51%.

Oil prices weakened $1.49 to $75.50 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices picked up $15.80 to $1,829.90 U.S. an ounce.