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Stocks fell for the second consecutive month in October as rising COVID-19 cases and related deaths shunted signs of an economic rebound. The month began on an upswing with both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 posting their best weekly gains since July, and the Dow finally pushed ahead of its 2019 year-end value.

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The positive run for stocks continued in August as the major market indexes regularly reached all-time highs. While investors remained bullish toward equities, it wasn’t always clear why.
 
Although the economy is gradually picking up steam, it has a ways to go to reach its pre-pandemic level. Gross domestic product for the second quarter showed that the economy receded at an annual rate of 31.7%. Job growth is ongoing, yet more than 14 million people are receiving unemployment benefits. 

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Stocks posted gains in July in spite of gloomy news on the economic and pandemic fronts. Investors continued to trust equities despite the gross domestic product falling nearly 33.0% in the second quarter, mixed quarterly corporate earnings results, emerging pandemic hot spots, growing unemployment claims, and ongoing turmoil between the United States and China.
 
On the positive side, 4.8 million new jobs were added in June, the housing sector surged, and industrial production continued to rebound. Investors also may be hoping that more financial stimulus is in the offing. Energy stocks, which had plunged in May, rebounded in June and continued to keep pace in July.

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May saw several states and foreign countries ease restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As economies slowly picked up momentum, investors grew more confident in stocks, driving values higher. However, investor optimism was kept in check by sobering economic reports and growing tensions between the United States and China. 
 

 

 

The unemployment rate reached its highest level since the Great Depression while claims for unemployment insurance soared past 25 million. Economic output lagged in April as expected. Hardest hit were automakers, restaurants, and airlines. The month closed with a speech from President Trump condemning China over the pandemic, Hong Kong, and several other "broken promises."
 

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The federal government continued to try easing the economic strain on individuals and businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act replenished the Paycheck Protection Program, provided funding for additional small business loans, offered financial support to hospitals, and increased the availability for more virus testing. The Federal Reserve added trillions of dollars in funds to its lending programs for states, cities, and midsize businesses. But the economic strain prompted a few states to begin the process of easing lockdown restrictions and reopening a range of businesses, in lieu of stay-at-home restrictions.

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