Here is something many investors would have found difficult to believe during March’s stomach-churning selloff: 2020 would turn out to be a stellar year for the stock market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the year at a record, rising about 0.7% Thursday alongside the S&P 500, which finished the year up 16% at its own new high. The market for initial public offerings is flourishing. Just weeks ago, home-rental startup

Airbnb Inc.

made a stock-market debut so stunning that its chief executive was briefly left speechless on live television.

These are things that would be easy to imagine in boom times. But 2020 has been anything but that for the world outside Wall Street. The cold reality is that the market’s rally has occurred in the midst of a catastrophic pandemic that has killed more than a million people, halted business and travel and wreaked havoc on the economy. Although there are plenty of…

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