U.S. indices tumbled, registering their worst week since March, as investors shed equity exposure ahead of the U.S. Presidential election and as surging COVID-19 cases sparked fresh lock downs in Europe and the United States. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: nail your shoes down. The week ahead is expected to produce roller coaster volatility. Investors will grapple with incoming election results and potential policy changes it may bring. All major indices were down last week, the Dow down 6.47%, S&P 5.62%, and Nasdaq 5.5%.
U.S. indices tumbled sharply as investors shed equity exposure ahead of the U.S. Presidential election and as surging COVID-19 cases sparked fresh lock downs in Europe and the United States. Despite impressive earnings from large cap technology companies on Thursday, the indexes had their worst week since March. Each index fell 5-7%+ on the week and sent the volatility reading above 40 for the first time since June. Majority of the S&P 500 market cap reported earnings, over 85% of firms have beat on the bottom line.
For the most part, economic data bested expectations. Stronger durable goods orders, steady consumer confidence, and slumping unemployment claims pointed towards continued recovery. However, some housing market data took a breather. Gross domestic product grew at a 33.1% annualized rate for the third quarter, led by a recovery in consumer spending.
The Week Ahead
Increased volatility is expected as investors grapple with election results and potential policy changes. PredictIt currently puts Democratic candidate Biden’s chances at winning around 70%. Key swing states like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina hint the race isn’t over. Analysts expect a Democratic victory to mean larger fiscal stimulus. However, Senate majority leader McConnell’s recent remarks suggest little impetus for a relief bill in a lame duck period. With COVID-19 reaching record levels, it’s no wonder recent volatility has spiked. Economic data will play second fiddle, but plenty of key reports emerge. Friday’s jobs report is expected to show steady employment growth and a further decline in the unemployment rate. On Thursday the FOMC meets and will release their latest policy statement, interestingly only 2 days after the election.
Longer-term, corporate fundamentals and normalization of the U.S. economy will likely be bigger drivers of return, in our view. It is widely believed that phase three results will be released in November from multiple vaccine candidates. This could be a big step in the right direction for a full reopen of the economy. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 7.14%, S&P up 1.21%, and Nasdaq up 21.61% through the close on Friday. Have a safe week!
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