2020 was an unpredictable year in the markets — what will 2021 be like?

After 2020’s rollercoaster in the global markets, investors will be looking at these five sectors and investment opportunities in 2021.

2020 will go down in history as one of the most memorable years in modern times. The first year of the third decade of the third millennium brought with it numerous unprecedented events, which were felt in the global markets. While Covid-19 no doubt takes the cake, there were some other events that shaped the past year.

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Now, as 2021 begins, investors will be turning their attention to the year ahead. Below, you will find five trading and investment opportunities that investors will be eyeing in 2021.

Big pharma and the Covid-19 vaccine

There is no doubt that the race to a coronavirus vaccine was one of the most exciting and interesting events to follow in 2020. In just nine short months, after more than 50 companies began research into creating such a solution, three came out victorious: Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, each creating a vaccine with a success rate of more than 90%.

While these successes have had an overall positive influence on their respective stock prices, it will be interesting to see if and how they leverage this success this year. Nevertheless, the fact that they were able to produce highly effective vaccines within such a short time frame is a triumph of science, technology and the human spirit.

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Bitcoin’s record-shattering run

Starting out the year at just above $7,000, Bitcoin was fairly muted in January 2020. After the massive bull run of 2017, some mainstream investors believed the world’s first cryptocurrency was all but defeated. However, crypto enthusiasts were still strong believers in Bitcoin, many claiming it would reach $20,000 before year end.

And they were absolutely right: The world’s largest crypto soared to the historic milestone and did not stop there, crossing milestone after milestone to climb to above $28,000 before the end of the year. Now, Bitcoin is all the hype again and many investors will be paying close attention to the digital currency, to see if it continues to soar in 2021, or comes crashing down.

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The remote work revolution

Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020. The dreaded virus impacted the lives of billions around the world and the practice of social distancing forced many organisations to switch some or all of their operations to remote work. Luckily, the technology infrastructure was already there, and the pandemic served as the perfect field test for all things remote.

Videoconferencing companies such as Zoom, and cloud services such as Amazon Web Service supported this transition and many companies reported an increase in productivity. However, as the global workforce returns to normal in 2021, it will be interesting to see if these remote functions remain dominant.

Getting back on the road

The sector which suffered most from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 was travel and leisure. Airlines saw their stock prices crashing, while much of their fleet remained grounded. Many hotels stayed empty during the normally busiest parts of the year, and services such as Airbnb lost significant chunks of their revenue stream, forcing them to furlough or even terminate employees

As the world gradually comes out of lockdown this year, investors will be looking at airlines, hotels, transportation and other travel-related companies, to see if and how much they are able to recover. While there is no doubt that some companies will regain their strength and will be buoyed by the reopening of global borders, others may have been hit too hard and will be forced to take drastic measures in 2021.

A black gold rush?

One of the most interesting financial assets to follow in 2020 was oil. Throughout the year, the proverbial black gold faced unprecedented circumstances, which led to unbelievable outcomes. In March, when it became apparent that the coronavirus pandemic would cripple the world for an unknown time period, fear gripped the oil market, causing some oil contracts to reach negative prices for the first time in history. While oil has since recovered, fuelled by the optimism that has accompanied the vaccine, its future is still somewhat unclear.

On the one hand, global demand for energy is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels within a relatively short time period. On the other, some irreversible changes, such as companies switching to permanent remote work, or countries increasingly favouring alternatives to fossil fuels, may weigh on oil prices. In 2021, many traders and investors will try to determine which way the wind is blowing, and whether or not oil is expected to return to its previous state.

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Looking ahead to 2021

As the year begins, investors will be following all of the markets mentioned above and many others. While the impact of 2020 is something that will be felt throughout 2021, there is always a chance that something entirely new and unexpected will turn out to be the deciding factor.

If you find that hard to believe, just go back and read some of the predictions made in 2019 about global markets in 2020.

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