2021 Is in the Record Books: A Year of Memes, Crypto, and Stock All-Time Highs.

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This year saw a lot of stocks record highs, meme mania, IPO surge and more.

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employee illustration; Dream Time (9)

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The year 2021 has been a grueling one, perhaps even more grueling than 2020. Anticipating the economic fallout from the new coronavirus variant – first Delta and now Omicron, rising inflation, and a wave of meme stocks and cryptocurrencies – is not easy. Average investor. And yet, the stock moved on, posting a lot of records along the way.

The S&P 500 on Wednesday broke its 70th record for 2021 to reach 4,793.06. This is the benchmark’s highest record in a single year since 1995’s astonishing 77, according to Dow Jones market data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed its first record low since November 8 on Wednesday. It reached 36,488.63 for its 45th record at the end of the year.

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The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is down 1.8% from its record of 16,057.44, which closed on November 19 – the 46th of the year.

Apple (ticker: AAPL) closed its 24th record for the year on Monday at $180.30. Shares of the iPhone maker are up 35% in 2021. Chip maker Nvidia (NVDA) hit a record close of $333.76 on Nov. 29, though shares are back at $30.01. Shares of the graphics card powerhouse have risen 130% since the beginning of January. Devon Energy (DVN), up nearly 180% in 2021, is the top performer of the S&P 500.

Exchange-traded funds pulled in $900 billion of new money as of mid-December, up from $500 billion in 2020. A record 450 new ETFs were launched, growing the industry to $7 trillion.

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GameStop (GME), the original meme stock, soared to $483 in January after users on social media sites like Reddit and Twitter pooled in the stock to thwart short-selling hedge funds. At $153.93, shares still trade at several times higher than historical levels and are up 717% to date. Another meme stock, AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC), rose to $72.62 in June. Shares are now trading at $27.81, up 1,218% so far, but well below levels last seen in early 2017.

The meme trader hub, Reddit’s obscene and irreverent Wallstreetbets forum, grew from about 1.7 million subscribers in January to nearly 11.4 million at the latest count, Subredditstats.com shows numbers. Top WallStreetBets Post of the Year – . a video of A Gamestop Stocks Billboard in Times Square-Received 447,000 net up-votes on the platform.

With more retail investors than ever thanks to the rise of commission-free trading, NYSE Composite and Nasdaq Composite trading volumes combined hit 2.36 trillion shares, already about 2.26 trillion shares, according to data from Dow Jones Markets Data. At the top of the 2020 mark of trillion.

It’s not just current equities riding high. Total IPO expert Jay Ritter reported that proceeds from the operating company’s initial public offering reached $118 billion — close to doubling the totals in 1999, 2000 and 2020, which were previous highs. Why Baron?

Ritter’s Figure Screen Out offers prices of less than $5 and other items such as American depository receipts, unit offers, closed-end funds, real estate investment trusts, among other filters. That special purpose separates the acquisition company IPO from the operating company IPO.

The parade of SPAC IPOs continued, with a record 612 raising $162.28 billion in gross proceeds. Data from Spacinsider.com. Earlier this year, Grab Holdings (GRAB) raised $4.5 billion at a valuation of $37 billion, both records for SPAC, according to DealLogic.

Cryptocurrency became a social media obsession for many, along with bitcoin, ether, and the meme crypto Dogecoin, who were among the record-makers at the start of the year. Non-fungible tokens, a type of blockchain-backed receipt for digital goods, also had a breakout 2021. A digital work of art by Mike Winkelman, known professionally as Beaple, sold for $69.3 million at Christie’s online auction in March.

As soon as Facebook rebranded itself as the Meta Platform (FB) to signal its aspirations to build the next evolution of the Internet, called the Metaverse, the term spread to the mainstream. According to earnings call transcripts tracked by Sentio, the word metaverse was mentioned in 224 calls, up from seven in 2020.

All stocks record highs, IPOs boom, crypto—they’re only a handful of milestones. And others were far more serious: for example, global COVID-19 cases hit a daily record of 1.45 million on Monday, records show.

Still, hopefully, vaccine booster doses and new treatments are rolling out. And investors are just hanging on.

Write to Connor Smith at [email protected]


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