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Stocks Mixed on COVID-19, Powell
Stocks were mixed last week in choppy trading as investors battled the crosscurrents of good economic data and a troubling rise in COVID-19 infections globally.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 1.38%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.32%. The Nasdaq Composite index gained 1.24% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, dropped 0.59%.
A healthy retail sales report, falling jobless claims, positive earnings surprises, and strong manufacturing data lent support to stock prices, but investor sentiment was dampened by several concerns.
Chief among these worries are a resurgence of COVID-19 infections this winter and the impact inflation may have on consumer confidence and corporate profit margins. The uncertainty surrounding the renomination of Fed Chair Powell exacerbated this unease; a decision from President Biden may come soon. Technology and other high-growth companies led the market, while some of the reopening stocks, such as travel and energy, lagged.
Retail Sales Jump
October retail sales increased 1.7%, indicating that consumers may be more confident than recent surveys have suggested. Sales of electronics, appliances, and autos were particularly strong last month.
The market cheered the report, interpreting the results as a sign that inflation has not discouraged Americans from buying the products and services they want or need. This retail sales number, however, may be overstated for two reasons. First, higher prices increase the level of sales even if consumer demand is flat. Second, spending may have been pulled forward by consumer worries over higher future prices and concerns that goods may …
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Stocks Tap the Brakes
Stocks posted small declines last week as investors digested recent stock market gains and an unexpectedly high inflation read.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.63%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 retreated 0.31%. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.69% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, dropped 0.78%.
Market Takes a Pause
After moving higher on Congressional approval of a $1 trillion-plus infrastructure spending bill, stocks drifted lower as investors took a breather after a weeks-long run-up in prices. A high October inflation report on Wednesday sent bond yields higher and stock prices lower, especially technology and other high growth companies. Energy also fell.
Higher-than-expected inflation elevated investor worries that the Fed may be forced to accelerate its bond tapering schedule and hike interest rates sooner than planned. Stocks found firmer footing following the inflation-related sell-off, closing the week on a strong note, though it wasn’t sufficient to keep stocks from ending the week in the red.
Hot! Hot! Hot!
Rising prices appear to be showing no signs of moderating. The first reading on inflation was Tuesday’s release of the Producer Price Index, which saw wholesale prices rise 0.6% in October and register an 8.6% increase from 12-months ago.
A day later the Consumer Price Index came in above consensus estimates, with prices climbing 0.9% from September 2021 and …
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Fed Says Tapering Ahead
A Federal Reserve announcement on tapering, a fresh batch of corporate profits, and encouraging economic data lifted stocks to another weekly gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.42%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 advanced 2.00%. The Nasdaq Composite index led, tacking on 3.05%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, added 1.58%.
Stocks Power Higher
Stocks marched higher throughout the week, lifted by a succession of positive corporate earnings surprises, optimistic forward guidance by some companies, and healthy economic data. Continued strong third-quarter profits reinforced the narrative that businesses were able to meet strong consumer demand and maintain robust profit margins, despite the headwinds of inflation and supply-chain knots.
Investors were unfazed by the Fed’s mid-week announcement that it would begin its bond purchase tapering plans, in part, because it had long been telegraphed and Fed Chair Powell’s optimistic analysis of the current state of the economy. Also cheered was the announcement of a new COVID-19 antiviral pill and a powerful rebound in job creation, driving stocks to new heights to close out the week.
The Fed Speaks
In an eagerly awaited November meeting of the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee), the Fed pulled the trigger on its plan to taper monthly bond purchases. Fed tapering will begin this month with reductions of $15 billion per month ($10 billion in Treasurys and $5 billion in mortgage-backed securities) that will end this pandemic-era policy response by July 2022.
The Fed reiterated its belief that inflation remained transitory, though conceding it had underestimated…
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Earnings Build; GDP Slows
A fresh wave of positive corporate earnings surprises sent markets to new record highs last week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.40%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 1.33%. The Nasdaq Composite index picked up 2.71% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 0.68%.
Earnings Drive Market
The week kicked off with the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 index setting record highs as the financial markets carried over the previous week’s price momentum.
Stocks continued to climb on a string of forecast-beating earnings results. With about half of the S&P 500 constituent companies having reported earnings, more than 80% of them have beaten W.all Street analysts’ consensus estimates. Based on these results, earnings for all S&P 500 companies are expected to come in approximately 39% above the third quarter of last year. (Forecasts are based on assumptions, and may not materialize.) Stocks overcame disappointing earnings from two mega-cap tech names on Friday to maintain the week’s solid gains.
GDP Growth Slows
While businesses managed to post strong earnings in the third quarter, the first look at economic growth came in below consensus estimates. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a 2.0% annualized rate in the third quarter, a slowdown from the two previous quarters, each of which posted …
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Strong Week on Wall Street
Stocks rallied last week on a stream of positive corporate earnings surprises.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.08%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 advanced 1.64%. The Nasdaq Composite index gained 1.29% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 0.23%.
Earnings Ignite Rally
Fears over inflation, supply shortages, and slowing economic growth in China were pushed aside last week as investors reacted to a daily succession of positive corporate earnings surprises. After the Dow Industrials reached an all-time high intraday on Wednesday, fresh earnings reports, an increase in existing home sales, and a new pandemic low in initial jobless claims–and continuing claims–propelled the S&P 500 index to a new record high the following session.
Disappointing earnings before the market opened on Friday hurt a few social media stocks, resulting in a choppy trading session and a selloff in the Nasdaq to close out the week.
Solid Start to Season
Investors came into the earnings season anxious about whether businesses could extend the earnings growth momentum of recent quarters amid an increase in Delta infections, inflation, labor shortages, and supply-chain bottlenecks. The early results were encouraging. Of the 23% of companies comprising the S&P 500 index that have reported, 84% beat Wall Street consensus earnings estimates by an average of more than 13%.
The earnings season may get more uneven in coming weeks since…Read More
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Fed Unveils Tapering Plans
A strong opening to the third-quarter earnings season sparked a late week, broad-based rally that helped stocks finish the week with solid gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.58%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 1.82%. The Nasdaq Composite index led, gaining 2.18% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 1.37%.
Investor Optimism Returns
After beginning the week on a lackluster note, stocks turned higher on Wednesday as companies kicked off a new earnings season and details about the Fed’s taper plans emerged. Investor enthusiasm shifted into high gear the following day on positive economic data and earnings reports that exceeded investor expectations. Buying continued through Friday on fresh earnings surprises and a better-than-expected retail sales report.
The economic data allayed some concerns about inflationary pressures and economic deceleration, while early earnings results provided hope that companies had weathered the surge in summer Covid infections. Nevertheless, worries about how supply-chain disruption and higher prices may impact corporate earnings guidance haven’t gone away.
Let the Tapering Begin
Minutes from September’s Federal Open Market Committee released last week provided detail around the Fed’s plans to taper its $120 billion monthly bond purchase program. The Fed expects to reduce its purchases by $15 billion each month, beginning in mid-November/December and ending in June 2022.
This tapering schedule is somewhat faster than what investors were anticipating, reflecting the Fed’s concern that inflation has been somewhat higher and more persistent than it had anticipated, with continuing supply-chain bottlenecks raising that risk level. Fed Chair Powell’s commitment to …
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Debt Ceiling Raised
The overhang of bumping against the federal debt ceiling was lifted last week with an agreement to extend the debt ceiling through early December, helping propel stocks to a weekly gain.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 1.22%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.79%. The Nasdaq Composite index gained 0.09%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was flat (+0.11%).
Debt Ceiling Concerns Evaporate, for Now
After suffering losses on concerns over delays with raising the federal debt ceiling, stocks rebounded as the Senate moved toward finalizing a debt ceiling agreement. While the agreement is only a short-term solution, it was enough to embolden investors to buy stocks.
The week’s rally ran out of gas on Friday, however, on a surprisingly weak employment report. Though the debt ceiling was the dominant concern in the markets last week, the market grappled all week with the headwinds of higher energy prices, rising bond yields, inflation, and less robust economic growth.
Fuzzy Employment Picture
Employment remains a confusing and unpredictable element of this post-pandemic economic recovery. Automated Data Processing’s employment report showed private sector jobs rose by a robust 568,000. This hiring surge may have been aided by the end of extended unemployment benefits and the …Read More
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Stocks Lackluster Despite Positive Outlook
Stocks weakened ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting and amid persistent concerns about the Delta variant’s impact on the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat (-0.07%), while the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.57%. The Nasdaq Composite index lost 0.47% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, dropped 0.65%.
Despite a string of economic reports painting a healthy picture of the U.S. economy, investor sentiment remained cautious. While tamer inflation and higher-than-expected retail sales may typically be constructive for the market, any investor enthusiasm it generated was fleeting.
The market appeared all week to be encumbered by a tentative, apprehensive mood. The Delta variant remained an overhang, but it was more than that. Investors appeared concerned about September, which historically has been a weak month for stock prices. The market also was concerned about fiscal and tax policy proposals emanating from Washington D.C., news of an economic slowdown in China, and by what the Fed may announce following its September 21-22 Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
Taking the Economic Pulse
A series of economic reports released last week provided investors with a broad snapshot of the state of the economic recovery.
Inflation showed signs of moderating, rising 0.3%—an elevated rate, but well below June and July’s increases of 0.9% and 0.5%, respectively. The consumer remained strong as retail sales rose 0.7%, an unexpected jump. Manufacturing reached pre-pandemic, while the labor market continued …
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Delta Variant Concerns Markets
In a quiet week of news, stocks moved lower amid simmering concerns over the Delta variant’s effect on the progress of economic reopening.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 2.15%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 1.69%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 1.61% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slipped 0.63%.
In a holiday-shortened week of trading, markets were choppy as investors grew cautious in the face of a potential Fed tapering decision later this month and the impact of Delta on the economic recovery.
What little news there was, it was decidedly mixed. Job growth showed real strength coming off a shaky employment report the previous Friday, while the Producer Price Index surged by 8.3% year-over-year, representing the largest annual increase since November 2010. The release reminded investors that inflation remained a market risk. Stocks tried to stage a rebound on Friday before sagging to close out the week.
After a disappointing employment report, two labor market reports last week appeared to show that the labor market recovery appeared intact. The JOLTS report (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) showed 10.9 million open jobs, a number that exceeded the number of unemployed by more than two million. The rate of hiring, however, decelerated, perhaps explaining why the …
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Data and Delta Scramble Stock Results
Stocks were mixed last week amid conflicting economic data and continued spread of Delta variant infections.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.24% during the five trading days. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 tacked on 0.58% and the Nasdaq Composite index rose 1.55%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, gained 1.51%.
Investors gravitated toward the high growth technology and communication services sectors, as well as the more defensive sectors, such as utilities and real estate. Reopening stocks were weighed down by Delta variant fears and a retreating consumer, while energy struggled to bounce in the wake of Hurricane Ida shutting down energy production and refining capacity.
Stocks appeared to shrug off a shaky employment report on Friday, despite the questions it raised about economic growth in the months ahead.
After initial jobless claims reached a new pandemic low on Thursday, the August employment report on Friday came in below expectations as payrolls expanded by 235,000. Adding to the subdued report was a 4% decline in the number of hours worked by employees. On the positive side, the Friday report showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, while wage growth rose 0.6% from July and increased 4.3% from August 2020.
The weak employment report may reflect a …