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Stocks close out 2020 with record highs: The headlines and your money

The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 43.6% last year.

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Exterior views of the Nasdaq in New York City.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Markets finish 2020 strong, how the pandemic has shifted trends in home sales, and advice for paying off holiday debt. Here's how the headlines could affect your money.

Stocks close out 2020 with record highs

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed at record highs on Thursday to finish out a strong year for the stock market. The Dow rose 7.3% in 2020, and the S&P 500 rose 16.3%. The big winner was the Nasdaq, which surged 43.6% as tech stocks saw big gains during the pandemic.

Monday, the markets fell on concerns over rising coronavirus cases. Investors will also be watching Tuesday's runoff election in Georgia, which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

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Home prices rising fastest in the middle of the U.S.

While home prices hit record highs across the U.S. in 2020, smaller metropolitan areas away from the coasts have seen the strongest price gains, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The pandemic is driving that trend as remote workers seek more space for less money.

One easy way to get an edge in a hot market: Write a letter to the seller with your offer. 

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How to tackle holiday debt

Americans racked up an average of $1,300 in holiday debt this year, according to MagnifyMoney. Kick-start the new year by making a plan to pay it off. Smart strategies can include picking a debt repayment strategy and consolidating debts using a personal loan or balance transfer offer.

Words you've heard: balance transfer

A balance transfer moves all or part of a debt from one account to another. Used carefully, credit card balance transfer offers can temporarily reduce the interest rate on a debt, enabling borrowers to pay it off faster.

Although the daily news can have an impact on your wallet, remember to take a long-term outlook when it comes to decisions on spending, saving, and investing.

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