Earnings Season is Here How will Markets React

U.S. indices logged modest gains after strong U.S. retail sales, building a week full of volatility. Investors juggled headlines on stimulus negotiations, the continuing COVID-19 crisis, and earnings season is here, kicking off this week. Last week all indexes finished slightly higher. The Dow up 0.07%, S&P up 0.21%, and Nasdaq up 0.79%.

Last Week

The tech titans propelled the Nasdaq higher, while the Dow and S&P 500 indexes sat flat. Bank earnings largely exceeded expectations. Banks were propelled by decent loan growth and dramatic decreases in loan loss provisions. The Philly Fed manufacturing index indicated activity picked up to its best level since February. Weekly unemployment claims rose to 898,000. Continuing unemployment claims fell sharply. Analysts note it is because many exhausted the 26-week limit. This strengthens the argument for U.S. lawmakers to act swiftly to provide relief from COVID-19’s lingering economic effects.

Markets struggled for direction last week as global COVID-19 cases rose to their highest levels since summer. The U.S. reported its highest daily infection count in two months and worldwide cases topped 39 million. Limited lock-downs in Europe are being called for amid the increases. Concerns surrounding the use of lock-downs and their impact, coupled with stalled stimulus talks domestically, made for choppy equity markets. September retail sales were seen rising by 1.9% last week as auto sales v-roomed ahead as they continue rebounding from second quarter lows.

The Week Ahead

While back-and-forth trade may persist, longer-term technical indicators look constructive. Earnings season will likely play second fiddle to stimulus negotiations, election polls, and vaccine progress. Eighty S&P 500 names report earnings this week, highlighted by Procter and Gamble, Verizon, Netflix, Southwest Airlines, and Coca-Cola. Given recent consumer data, upside surprises for many names seem plausible. Economic data to watch will be Tuesday’s housing starts and building permits. Thursday’s unemployment claims, will also be watched closely, to see if the negative trend build. As election uncertainty continues, focusing on events that are likely to occur can add some investing clarity. The U.S. should have a vaccine sometime in the next few months. There will likely be another large round of federal stimulus in the next few months. The Fed will likely keep rates near zero for as long as the economy needs it.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 0.24%, S&P up 7.83%, and Nasdaq up 30.08% through the close on Friday.

Have a fun and safe week!

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