Monday morning briefing: U.S. equities unbound

Check off another record for the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time. A 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card of sold for US$1.29 million at auction, which was the highest amount paid for a hockey card in history. For comparison, the same card sold for US$465,000 in 2016.

The sale highlights a relatively strong year for some alternative investments, like hockey cards and art, despite the pandemic. According to the All Arts Index from, the art market advanced 5.5% from January to July 2020, which was stronger than many other asset classes over that same period. The gains in art and hockey cards show that quality investments may also be found outside of traditional securities markets.

Economic/industry news

The U.K. and EU reach a trade agreement: U.K. clinches historic post-Brexit trade agreement with EU

Why investors should be considering alternatives: Top alternative investment trends for 2021

Credit funds get a boost from the Fed: How the Fed saved credit funds

Structural changes in the commercial real estate market: Two commercial real estate trends for 2021

Forbes’ favourite stories of 2020: Forbes favourite 2020: The year’s best finance & investing stories

Reasons for hope

Potential vaccine from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford over 70% effective: AstraZeneca claims to have the ‘winning formula’ for its vaccine

Making it through the winter: COVID-19: Five ways to stay positive through the winter

Securing COVID-19 vaccines: Locked rooms, tracking devices and bulletproof glass: How pharmacies are securing COVID-19 vaccines

Adapting your business

It all starts with a plan … and a strategy: Marketing: Why you need both a plan and a strategy

Financial institutions should benefit from digitalization: Digitalization a credit positive for financial firms: Fitch 

Expanded use of technology a top trend for 2021: Top RIA trends in 2021: Joel Bruckenstein

How the pandemic may have shifted spending habits: How COVID-19 has transformed consumer spending habits

Chart of the week

What a year 2020 was for U.S. equities. After climbing to record highs in February, in part in response to a phase-one trade agreement signed between the U.S. and China, the S&P 500 Index tumbled into bear market territory as COVID-19 spread around the world, leading to widespread lockdowns. But that was not the end of the story. Optimism toward technology stocks took hold and drove the performance of the index for the remainder of the year, culminating in the S&P 500 reaching a record high in December.

It was a wild ride for investors in 2020 and, given continued uncertainty, 2021 could be another interesting year. Will another sector drive performance? Will value lead in the coming year? Are U.S. equities overvalued? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

SPAC boom may continue in 2021: No end in sight for blank-check firms after year of the SPAC

Hedge funds post positive inflows in October: Hedge funds reverse course in October with USD5.2bn in inflows

Advisors can now use testimonials and endorsements: SEC’s overhaul of advisor advertising rule allows testimonials

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past year: Mutual funds scorecard: 2020 annual edition

News and notes (Canada)

Attractive opportunities in private assets could persist in 2021: CPPIB sees ‘wall of money’ chasing private deals in frothy times

Percentage of debt-free households in Canada declines: Canadian net worth growth slows while debt builds

Mutual funds post strong net sales in November: Mutual fund sales outpace ETFs in November

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