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Fourth-Quarter 2020 Market Insights in 8 Charts

Morningstar’s analysis demonstrates the disproportionate economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite a U.S. surge in coronavirus cases and the discovery of multiple infection variants, the U.S. equity market rolled high in the fourth quarter of 2020, recovering from pandemic-related declines in the first half of the year. This resulted in double-digit, full-year returns fueled by the prospect of a less-confrontational presidency, news of multiple vaccine approvals, and stimulus expectations.

The last few days of 2020 also brought long-awaited pandemic relief. Congress agreed on a plan to extend many of the CARES Act measures, including direct payments to households and generous unemployment benefits—an important step for the U.S. to build a bridge to “normalcy.”