Wall Street's year of bust and boom

March 22, 2021

NEW YORK (Mar 22) - Wall Street giddyness in recent weeks stands in stark contrast to the pandemic panic of one year ago.

U.S. stocks on Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of the market low as the spread of the COVID-19 and government lockdowns began to crush economic activity, before massive government and central bank stimulus plus the development of vaccines fueled a stunning, if uneven, rebound.

As investor optimism grew, stocks began to recover from the selloff that ended an 11-year bull market, history's longest.

The S&P 500 bottomed by closing at 2237.40 on March 23, and topped the Feb. 19, 2020 bull-market high on Aug. 18, when the index ended the session at 3389.78. That high marked the end of the shortest bear market ever and confirmed that on March 23 a new bull had been unleashed.

Initial lockdowns hit customer-facing services sectors the hardest as social distancing mandates to curb COVID's spread shuttered restaurants and slammed the travel and leisure industry.

Jobs in these sectors - typically on the lower end of the wage scale - evaporated overnight, and as new coronavirus infections spiked and abated, those jobs have been slow to return.

Conversely, the shutdown caused consumer demand to shift from services to goods, boosting resilience of U.S. factories and prompting a restoration of manufacturing jobs that outpaced the whole.


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