Basically, they were right.

As the year draws to a close, the verdict has fallen for Wall Street: It was a time of good fortune. Even so, simplistic narratives have often failed, as traders have learned to expect the unexpected. After all, there was inflation, which was transient until it was no longer. Some stocks have turned into memes, registering incredible gains. Bitcoin soared, then plunged – then soared and plunged again.

Here are four numbers that highlight the most important trends and provide clues as to where the market may be heading.

The big economic surprise of the year was inflation, which rocked policymakers and could pave the way for more turmoil in 2022.

A surge in demand for goods and supply chain bottlenecks have driven prices up at the fastest rate in nearly four decades, fueling political discontent and forcing central bankers to reverse stimulus measures of the crisis faster than expected.

So far, the markets have largely ignored inflation fears. But it’s good to stay humble and remember how wrong many forecasters were. In June, the Federal Reserve predicted that its preferred measure of inflation would be 3.4% in 2021, already well above its target of around 2%. The latest data for November showed inflation at 5.7%.

70: The number of times the S&P 500 has hit an all-time high this year

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 closed at a record high. If this phrase sounds familiar to you, it’s because it has happened another 69 times in 2021, a sign of the market’s continued ability to continue pushing higher despite significant uncertainty over price spikes and the coronavirus.

According to Ryan Detrick of LPL Financial, 2021 produced the second-highest stock market level on record. It was also one of the best years on record for stocks, with the S&P 500 on track to finish up 27.6%.

Better yet: there was only one 5% decline. This happens on average three times a year.

100 million: the number of GameStop shares traded daily at the end of January

One of the most spectacular moments in the market over the past 12 months has undoubtedly been the GameStop (GME) saga.

When shares of the struggling video game retailer climbed about 2,700% in January, it woke up Wall Street lawsuits to power from armchair investors, who were coordinating on social media networks such as Reddit and Discord. and were using apps like Robinhood to drive stocks up dramatically. of their favorite companies.

A report by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission later revealed that the volume of stocks changing hands was huge. Between January 13 and January 29, an average of 100 million GameStop shares were traded per day, up 1,400% from the 2020 average.

And with bigger players now paying attention, the bubble hasn’t burst. GameStop is still up 717% year-to-date, although its losses are widening.

2.2 trillion: the value of the global cryptocurrency market in dollars

By now, everyone knows that cryptocurrencies are an extremely volatile asset class. Yet even by Bitcoin standards, this year has brought real ups and downs.

The most popular crypto coin first crossed $ 60,000 in March before collapsing in May, scaring new investors. But those who held on were rewarded. Bitcoin rebounded to a record high of $ 68,789.63 in November – although it was, of course, declining again in December.

Behind these fluctuations lies a bigger story. For the first time, many institutions have started to take crypto seriously. Payment giants like MasterCard (MY) said they would start accepting crypto purchases on their networks. America’s oldest bank has formed a “digital assets” unit.
And why not? The market value of $ 2.2 trillion is not that big compared to the size of the global stock market, which was worth $ 120 trillion in the second quarter. But that’s not to be sneezed at – and it’s growing fast.

China’s Xi’an lockdown hits major chipmakers

Two of the world’s largest chipmakers warn Covid-19 outbreaks and strict lockdowns at a major Chinese industrial center are hampering their operations.

Samsung and Micron said this week they had to adjust their operations in the northwest city of Xi’an, which is experiencing one of the worst community outbreaks of the coronavirus pandemic in China. Authorities have responded with sweeping measures on a scale rarely seen since the lockdown of Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Any slowdown in the city’s production risks exacerbating the global chip shortage, an ongoing crisis that has limited the supply of everything from iPhones to new cars.

Intelligence (INTC) CEO Pat Gelsinger recently said the global chip shortage is expected to last until 2023 as demand remains high, putting even more pressure on suppliers to maintain production.
Samsung (SSNLF) said on Wednesday that he had to “temporarily adjust its operations” in Xi’an. The South Korean giant added that protecting its workers in the city remains its “top priority” and that it plans to take “all necessary measures, including taking advantage of our global manufacturing network, to ensure that our customers are not affected “.
American chipmaker Micron (MICR) also said on Wednesday that Xi’an’s lockdown could impact the production of its DRAM memory chips, which are used in computers. The company had to reduce its workforce at the site.

“New or stricter restrictions affecting our operations in Xi’an may be increasingly difficult to ease,” the company said.

Important background: Xi’an, an ancient city in Shaanxi province, reported a total of 1,117 cases in the last outbreak. It rolled out tests across the city and placed its 13 million residents under strict lockdown last week, shutting down schools, public places and transportation. It is the largest in China since 11 million people were cordoned off in Wuhan in January 2020.

Another Richard Branson space venture goes public

A second space company from Richard Branson is about to hit the market.

Virgin Orbit is expected to debut on the Nasdaq on Thursday after merging with a specialist acquisition company, or SPAC.

Founded by Branson in 2017, the company manufactures technology to launch satellites. Its first commercial launches took place earlier this year.

On the radar: When Virgin Galactic went public in 2019, it received a warm welcome from investors. Virgin Orbit did not have the same experience. Branson announced last week that his Virgin Group would put up to $ 100 million to secure the finish line deal.

“This investment will ensure Virgin Orbit has the capital to build on its incredible foundations and continue its rapid transition to a successful commercial space launch company,” said Branson.

Warning sign: Space stocks are in trouble. Virgin Galactic shares have hit $ 62.80 this year, but have slumped following Branson’s much-publicized space trip over the summer, ending Wednesday at $ 13.04.

And satellite launch services company Astra Space, which went public earlier this year, saw its shares drop to an all-time low this week. Capital Kerrisdale said that’s short the stock, betting it will keep going down. On Wednesday, he called Astra “the worst space SPAC of 2021”.


Initial jobless claims in the United States for last week at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Coming tomorrow: Before the bell takes a break on Friday, but will be back in your inbox on Sunday for the 2022 kick-off.


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