Still, data on Thursday was a reminder the economy still has a lengthy recovery ahead as weekly initial jobless claims, while declining for a second straight week to 787,000, remained well above the peak of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.
Pursche believes the momentum could carry over into the new year.
"Vaccine versus accelerating cases... that will be the story of the market for the first couple of months", said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management. About 2.8 million Americans have been inoculated so far, falling well short of the year-end goal of 20 million.
A favorable US election outcome and optimism around vaccines rollouts sparked a rally in risky assets in November, but the momentum stalled on worries over fresh fiscal stimulus and a new, highly infectious COVID-19 variant spreading globally.
The S&P 500 opened higher by 1.23 points, or 0.03%, at 3,733.27, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 7.09 points, or 0.06%, to 12,877.09 at the opening bell.
But it ultimately wasn't so bad for stocks - the S&P 500 more than recovered from its March depths, setting numerous record highs in the latter part of the year and finishing 2020 up 16.3%.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.32% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.13%.
Shares of payments network processor Mastercard Inc rose 2.56% after Stephens hiked its price target on the stock on hopes of improving cross-border sentiment.
"2020 is coming to an end".
United States crude fell 0.41% to US$48.20 per barrel and Brent was last at US$51.18 per barrel, down 0.87% the day.
U.S. Treasury yields dipped, pulling the yield curve flatter, as thin volume exaggerated market moves.
Shares of Tesla added to the benchmark S&P index on December 21, rose an astounding 743 per cent on the year.
The 30-year bond last rose 12/32 in price to yield 1.6462%, from 1.662% late on Wednesday.
The S&P 1500 airlines index fell 1.3%, while cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd slipped between 3.9% and 2.3%.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.06% versus the greenback at 103.26 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3673, up 0.37% on the day.
Gold prices rose, and the safe-haven metal was set to notch its best year in a decade due to economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
Spot gold added 0.2% to $1,897.88 an ounce.