The S&P 500 jumped 12.7% in April. From there, markets disconnected from the rest of the still running economy and spiked higher as vaccine development progressed and analysts and economists envisioned the eventual end of the pandemic. .
Even as the stock market rose as the fortunes of large companies improved, millions of people remained without work and many small businesses across the country, such as bars and restaurants, remained closed or limped at a fraction of their usual capacity.
Individual investors, sometimes referred to as retail investors on Wall Street, have jumped on the market rally through commission-free online trading platforms like Robinhood. Along the way, they’ve helped propel the stocks of companies like Tesla to new heights. The electric car maker jumped 743.4% in 2020 for the biggest gain in the S&P 500.
“Retail investors were a bigger part of the market than they ever did,” said Cruz. “It was retail and institutional investors who all came to the same conclusion about what was going to work and what was not going to work this year at the same time.”
The market’s rally was faster than anyone might have expected in March, when the nearly 11-year S&P 500 bull market ended. By August, the index had recouped all its losses and climbed to new highs, rewarding investors who exceeded it. In total, the S&P 500 set 33 records in 2020.