2020 Market Rally Baffles Analysts As Millions Struggle Financially

The stock market posted big gains this year, despite many challenges from the pandemic. It's unclear what that means for the economy in 2021.

2020 Market Rally Baffles Analysts As Millions Struggle Financially
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Wall Street is closing 2020 at record levels. But some analysts are confused about why.

An adviser at Strategic Wealth Partners put it like this: "This market continues to defy physics. … I'm really struggling to understand how we're in a better spot today — stimulus checks or not — than we were a year ago pre-COVID, pre-lockdowns, all that."

The fact is, there really haven't been many huge breakthroughs in improving the economy. Yes, some spending might increase as a result of more relief payments to Americans. But it's unlikely Senate Republicans will back the proposal for $2,000 direct payments.

And other economic indicators aren't encouraging. Pending home sales dropped in November for a third consecutive month, and by a higher margin than expected. Exports are still lagging — more than 6.5 percent below last year. And each week, another 800,000 Americans or so have been filing for unemployment for the first time.

So, as Wall Street prepares to close the year at or above record levels, the big question is, why? And are we headed for a sell-off or correction early next year?