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Stocks Edge Lower in Year’s Last Session

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U.S. stocks ticked lower on the last trading day of 2021, wrapping up a year of repeated records on Wall Street on low interest rates and the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

All three major indexes opened Friday lower. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average oscillated between small gains and losses as the New Year’s Eve trading session wore on before falling toward the end of the day. The Dow fell 0.2%, the S&P 500 slid 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.6%.

Money managers described Friday’s trading activity as light, and chalked up the marginal selling to last-minute tax moves and year-end portfolio positioning by fund managers. “Today is more about April than it is about Dec. 31,” said

Jason Brady,

chief executive of Thornburg Investment Management, which manages nearly $50 billion in assets.

The relatively calm trading Friday juxtaposes a busy year in markets in which individual investors piled into meme stocks and the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and low interest rates motivated investments in equities.

These factors helped the S&P 500 to close at a record 70 times this year, more than one-quarter of all trading days, according to Dow Jones Market Data. And pushed the index up 27% in 2021, its third straight year of double-digit gains and its hottest streak since 1999.

The Dow and Nasdaq did well over the past 12 months too, rising 19% and 22%, respectively.

Much of the broader market rally was also driven by a small group of massive stocks, such as

Apple,

Tesla

and

Microsoft.

Microsoft and Tesla shares have each risen more than 50% this year, while Apple has gained more than 30%.

“This is really the year of the economic recovery,” said Sean Markowicz, an investment strategist at Schroders. “In 2022, I see growth cooling as the massive policy stimulus in response to the pandemic fades.”

Investors are watching a number of risks heading into 2022 that could derail the market’s rally. Cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are surging, causing some businesses to curtail services and hours as workers call in sick. U.S. inflation reached a nearly four-decade high last month, raising questions about how many price increases Americans can absorb and if that will affect corporate earnings. The Federal Reserve has also set the stage for a series of interest-rate increases beginning next spring.

In response to some of those concerns, investors turned more defensive over December. They bought shares of utilities, consumer staples, and real-estate firms, pushing all three sectors up at least 9.4% over the month. Technology and communication stocks saw more muted gains, while shares of consumer discretionary firms were flat.

That continued to play out on Friday. Stocks across the communication services sector slipped 0.7%.

Facebook

parent company

Meta Platforms

fell 2.1%, while

Alphabet

lost 0.9% and

Netflix

retreated 1.3%.

Some meme stocks were also in the red, suggesting some investors took profits there, too. Shares of

AMC Entertainment Holdings

fell 6% Friday after rising more than tenfold this year.

GameStop,

up more than 700%, declined 4.3%.

Meanwhile, shares of vaccine makers climbed.

Pfizer

added 1.1% in the wake of the the U.K.’s drug regulator authorizing its Covid-19 oral antiviral pill, as well as signs that public health officials in the U.S. may approve booster shots against the virus for 12- to 15-year olds as early as next week.

Moderna

climbed 1%.

Shares of

Ford Motor

also topped the S&P 500, adding 1.5%. The car maker’s stock, which has been a favorite among retail investors all year, soared nearly 140% this year, on track for its biggest annual gain since 2009.

Consumer staples added 0.6%, while real-estate firms rose 0.7%.

In bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.514%. The yield rose 0.601 percentage point this year as of Thursday, the largest one-year yield gain since 2013, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Investors have sold out of government bonds, pushing up yields, because holding bonds that yield less than inflation means locking in a loss. Yields and prices move inversely.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 edged almost 0.2% lower, with markets closed in Germany, Spain and Italy. The broad-market index has risen more than 20% this year.

The rapidly spreading Omicron variant is clouding the outlook for oil markets after a rapid recovery in demand pushed prices to their highest levels in years. Brent crude futures, the benchmark in global oil markets, declined 1.9% Friday to $78.02 a barrel.

Shares of Chinese internet and technology companies jumped in Hong Kong on the last day of the year, following a surge in their corresponding American depositary receipts overnight. The Hang Seng Tech Index, which tracks the 30 largest technology companies listed in the city, rose 3.6% on Friday in a holiday-shortened trading session. The broader Hang Seng Index gained 1.2%.

China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.6% Friday. Markets in South Korea and Japan were closed for a holiday.

Corrections & Amplifications
The chief executive of Thornburg Asset Management is Jason Brady. An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave his surname as Thornburg. (Corrected on Dec. 31)

Write to Caitlin Ostroff at caitlin.ostroff@wsj.com and Michael Wursthorn at michael.wursthorn@wsj.com

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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