The week on Wall Street

A jump in COVID-19 cases dampened investor enthusiasm last week, sending stock prices lower on worries that rising infections could derail the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 3.31%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 retreated 2.86%. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.90% for the week. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed stock markets overseas, declined 1.28%.1,2,3

A Rocky Week for Stocks

Investors began the week overlooking a jump in COVID-19 cases in some early reopening states, sending stocks higher and powering the NASDAQ Composite to close above 10,000 and establish a new record high on successive days. But the market quickly reversed course as investors reacted to data showing a troubling spike in nationwide COVID-19 cases.4

In Thursday’s trading, stocks opened lower but then rallied late in the day on no apparent news. Stocks resumed their decline on Friday, falling on news that Texas and Florida were rolling back some reopening plans amid rising COVID-19 infections.5

COVID-19 Cases

Investor expectations for an economic rebound took a hit last week, following reports of an increase in nationwide COVID-19 cases. The pace of infections had picked up in 33 states, with the seven-day average of new cases higher than the average over the last two weeks.6

While traders understood that reopening and increased testing would lead to an uptick in reported cases, the numbers were a bit unsettling. The week’s action reminded investors that the market remains tightly tethered to COVID-19 developments.

Fun Fact

Did you know Wall St. started all the way back in 1792?

1792 – Financial traders in New York sign the buttonwood agreement. This agreement was signed under a sycamore (or “buttonwood”) tree on Wall Street that the men would meet at to conduct trades. It set rules to keep the local government from interfering with their work. It also set rules to limit competition in finance, in part by requiring that anyone who wanted to trade securities had to be a member or approved of by the membership.

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