Stocks end 2021 on weak note, but still notch huge yearly gain

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Stocks capped a quiet day of trading with modest losses Friday, even as Wall Street closed the books on another banner year.

The S&P 500 finished with a gain of 26.9% for the year, or a total return of about 29%, including dividends. That’s nearly as much as the benchmark index gained in 2019. The Nasdaq composite, powered by Big Tech stocks, climbed 21.4% in 2021. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 18.7%, with Home Depot and Microsoft leading the way.

“It’s the third year in a row of incredible gains,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist with TD Ameritrade. “The market itself was just amazingly strong.”

A wave of consumer demand fueled by the reopening of economies pumped up corporate profits more than expected in 2021, which helped keep investors in a buying mood. The Federal Reserve and other central banks also helped prop up the market by keeping…

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