Major Indexes Continue Higher

Major indexes closed at all-time highs last week. U.S. equities reached new record highs after strong jobs data and the Federal Reserve’s expected tapering decision. Last week, the Dow finished up 1.43%, S&P 2.03%, and Nasdaq 3.08%.

Last Week – Major Indexes Reach New Highs

The S&P 500 Index returned 2.03% last week after closing Friday at all-time highs. Equities rallied on positive economic data and strong corporate earnings. Last week earnings season reached full swing after 183 names in the S&P 500 announced quarterly results. Every S&P 500 sector except healthcare and financials posted gains. For the second straight week, the S&P was led by the consumer discretionary sector. Basic materials and technology also advanced more than 3%.

The U.S. central bank would like to see further improvements in the labor market before raising interest rates. Mainly, in the participation rate, which is still below pre-Covid levels. The Federal Reserve announced they will start tapering or reducing their asset purchases per month. When questioned about interest rates, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stated rate hikes could happened in the back half of next year, but the Federal Reserve will remain “data dependent” in their decisions. Regarding inflation, Powell and the Federal Reserve’s certainty in inflation being transitory continues to decrease as higher prices continue. Last week wrapped up with Friday’s stronger than expected jobs report. Friday’s Non-Farm Payroll report revealed 531K new jobs added in October, with the unemployment rate falling to 4.6%.

Wages have also risen 4.9% Year-over-Year. Earlier in the week the ADP account showed private payrolls rising 571K for October, and weekly unemployment claims dropped to 269K. In other economic news, the U.S. ISM Services PMI jumped to a record 66.7 in October, while manufacturing activity slowed to 60.8 from 61.1 on stretched supply chains. U.S. Q3 productivity growth fell 5%, the biggest quarterly drop since 1981, as unit labor costs leapt 8.3%. Overseas, the Bank of England surprised by holding rates steady on labor market concerns. Crude oil fell 2% even though OPEC decided not to raise production in the face of mounting pressure from the Biden administration. China’s October PMI slipped into contraction, and Chinese tech stocks remained under pressure from regulators.

This Week

Even with a robust jobs market, high inflation, and expectations of rate increases as soon as the second half of 2022, 10-year Treasury yields fell 10 basis points last week. The Fed did add a note of caution in its statement, particularly on inflation, and investors have been well prepared for the central bank’s bond buying reduction. Ultimately it reflects an uncertain environment which may continue to drive rate volatility in the near term.

The U.S. economic calendar is light but contains important updates, with PPI on Tuesday and CPI on Wednesday. China releases their inflation data late Tuesday, with producer prices expected to advance even further from last month’s 26-year highs. Other notable events include Australia’s employment numbers, preliminary Q3 GDP from the UK, and Eurozone sentiment and industrial production figures. The week finishes up with U.S. Jolts job openings and a preliminary consumer sentiment reading for November.

This week earnings season is winding down as 20 names in the S&P 500 are expected to report. Notable names expected to report include Berkshire Hathaway Inc., The Walt Disney Co., PayPal Inc., Johnson Controls Holdings. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 18.7%, S&P up 25.06%, and Nasdaq up 23.9% through the close on Friday.

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