Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
The U.S. stock market has come a long way in a short time.
The S&P 500 index closed at a record high Tuesday, nearly six months after coronavirus lockdowns that shut down much of the economy sent the markets plunging.
As the market fell deeper into bear territory, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted four-digit losses on multiple trading days — including a shocking drop of nearly 3,000 points, or 13%, in a single day. Stock prices fell so fast that automatic circuit breakers kicked in several times, forcing temporary trading halts.
But after plummeting 34% from its Feb. 19 peak, the S&P 500 has staged a steady recovery — gaining more than 50% from its low on March 23. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 finished at 3,389.78 — an all-time closing high.
The Dow has made a similar rebound — rising about 9,600 points, or 53%, from its low — but remains about 1,800 points below its highs.
With countless businesses closed and tens of millions out of work, the economy contracted at a record 32.9% pace in the second quarter. After soaring to 14.7% in April, unemployment fell to a still-high 10.2% last month.
But investors have been betting on an economic recovery boosted by record-low interest rates and other stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve and Congress.
And yet renewed spikes in coronavirus cases around the country, followed by a new round of lockdowns, have cast doubts on when the recovery will take hold.