Aug 18, 2020 - Economy

S&P 500 closes at record high for first time since pandemic began

Source: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P 500 closed at a new high on Tuesday for the first time since February, before the coronavirus pandemic was declared.

Why it matters: It’s among the fastest-ever recoveries on record and comes as millions of Americans remain out of work during one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history.

  • Further coronavirus spread is expected to hamper any sign of a recovery.
  • Meanwhile, the stock market has been grinding higher amid unprecedented actions from the Federal Reserve and fiscal support from Congress, though the prospects of another stimulus package remain uncertain.

The backstory: The S&P 500 closed up 0.23% to surpass the previous record close of 3,386.15 set on Feb. 19.

  • As the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. and states started to mandate closures, the stock market began a steep decline and eventually fell 34% to its pandemic low-point on March 23.

Between the lines: This is the shortest period of time it's taken for the S&P 500 to set a new record after a previous bull market high, per Barron's.

  • CNBC notes that it's the third-fastest rally ever when measured from the time it took for the S&P to reach a new high after its bottom.

Worth noting: The Nasdaq, which also closed at a new record today, was the first to recover and continued to hit highs in recent weeks, powered by high-flying tech stocks.

  • The Dow is still roughly 5% below the all-time high set in February, though it's rallied more than 50% from its low point during the stock market's sell-off in March.
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