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Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P 500 rose half a percent on Thursday to top the 3,200 level for the first time.

The big picture: A year that saw equity prices whipsawed by trade war uncertainty and recession fears is ending (so far) on a relatively quiet note.

  • One sign of calmness: Volatility in short-end U.S. treasuries has plummeted, after "rocketing higher in late May 2019 on Trumpian uncertainty," as Arbor Research & Trading's Ben Breitholtz points out.
  • "Waning uncertainty and investors disregarding the repo-doomsayers has returned a sense of calm. If concern brews again, this will be one of the first place(s) it noticeably emerges."

What's next: Turning to 2020, the same threats that worried Wall Street analysts this time last year haven't completely vanished. A re-escalation of U.S.-China trade tensions is among the caveats that could knock bullish year-end S&P price targets off-course, analysts say.

What they're saying: "The rivalry between the US and China hasn't gone away. Investors will be alert for any sign that tensions are re-emerging, or either side is dissatisfied with the implementation of the Phase 1 agreement," UBS analysts wrote in a note on Thursday.

  • That firm predicts the S&P will end next year lower than where it's trading now, though most Wall Street analysts forecast more upside.

Go deeper: Asset managers urge caution in 2020

Go deeper

Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 33,642,602 — Total deaths: 1,007,769 — Total recoveries: 23,387,825Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,191,061 — Total deaths: 205,998 — Total recoveries: 2,813,305 — Total tests: 103,155,189Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. Politics: 7 former FDA commissioners say Trump is undermining agency's credibility
  5. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  6. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  7. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
  8. Work: United States of burnout — Asian American unemployment spikes amid pandemic

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed 46,600 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

Some 18,700 firefighters are battling 27 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: 8,155 wildfires have burned across a record 3.86 million acres, killing 26 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The first Trump v. Biden presidential debate was a hot mess

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

This debate was like the country: Everybody’s talking. Nobody’s listening. Nothing is learned. It’s a mess.

  • We were told President Trump would be savage. Turned out, that was a gross understatement. Even the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, got bulldozed.

Why it matters: Honestly, who the hell knows?