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Stocks hit yearly highs on final day of 2020

Stocks hit yearly highs on final day of 2020
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The stock market closed Thursday with major U.S. indexes closing at yearly highs after a whipsaw 2020 of stunning losses and surprising gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose roughly 200 points to finish at a record high of 30,606.48. The S&P 500 index rose 0.6 percent to a 52-week high of 3,756.07, and the Nasdaq composite eked out a gain of 0.1 percent, remaining near new record highs set earlier in the week. 

Thursday closed the book on a tumultuous but incredibly successful year for stocks, which have set and shattered a series of record highs throughout most of 2020.

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The onset of the coronavirus pandemic triggered a stock market crash in February and March that cost the major indexes roughly 20 percent of their value. But the quicker-than-expected beginning of the recovery from the coronavirus recession and steady progress toward highly effective COVID-19 vaccines helped the market make up all of its 2020 losses by mid-summer.

The Dow closed Thursday up 6 percent in 2020, the S&P closed up 15.2 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq capped off 2020 with a staggering 41.7 percent gain thanks to soaring shares of Silicon Valley giants throughout the year.

The strength of the stock market, however, stands in stark contrast to the pain and weakness seen throughout the U.S. economy. More than 10 million jobs lost to the coronavirus recession have not yet been replaced and nearly a third of Americans are struggling to pay for basic expenses, according to Census Bureau data.

Economists are generally optimistic that the U.S. will see the start of a major comeback by the middle of 2021, but say the recovery is highly dependent on how quickly the country can contain COVID-19 and vaccinate enough of its population.

Updated 4:16 p.m.