Stocks rally to cap off best quarter in decades

Stocks rally to cap off best quarter in decades
© BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images

Stocks rallied Tuesday to cap off the best quarter for all three major U.S. indexes in several decades despite months of economic damage and anxiety driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 200 points, rising 1 percent Tuesday and nearly 18 percent for the quarter. The second quarter of 2020 was the steepest rise for the Dow since 1987, according to CNBC.

The S&P 500 rose 1.5 percent to end the second quarter with a gain of nearly 20 percent, its best quarter since 1998, according to CNBC, while the Nasdaq posted its best quarter since 1999 with a gain of 30.6 percent over the past three months.

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After crashing in late February, the stock market has rallied steadily since April even as the U.S. economy attempts to climb out of its deepest downturn since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate stood at 13.3 percent as of May, according to the Labor Department, and more than 40 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits since the pandemic shut down wide swaths of the U.S. economy.

While the economy appeared to gain ground in May as 2.7 million furloughed workers returned to their jobs, economists have warned that the fragile recovery is threatened by surging COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

“While this bounce-back in economic activity is welcome, it also presents new challenges — notably, the need to keep the virus in check,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday, predicting that a full recovery is “unlikely” until Americans feel comfortable gathering in large numbers and in close spaces.