Presidential Virus Case and Impact on the Markets

Happy fall y’ll! The President has contracted the virus. Lawmakers are working on a coronavirus relief bill. Jobs continue to recover, but at a slower than expected rate. Last week all indexes finished up. The Dow up 1.9%, S&P 1.5%, and Nasdaq 1.5%. The markets fell mid last week as news of the Presidential virus emerged, before rallying by the weeks end.

Last Week

Despite President Trump testing positive for coronavirus, equities ended a volatile week higher. Investors became more upbeat about a potential stimulus package. The positive test for the President does creates near term uncertainty. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump’s prognosis changed the shape of talks over a new stimulus package. In economic news, non-farm payrolls continued to improve with 661,000 jobs added in September. These numbers are below the consensus of 859,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. The pace of growth in the manufacturing sector slowed in September. But still expanded with an ISM Manufacturing Index reading of 55.4.

Consumer spending was up 1% over the prior month. This is the 4th straight monthly increase, and is now down roughly 2% compared to a year ago. Initial jobless claims for the week ended September 26 were 837,000. Marking the 5th consecutive week between 800,000 and 900,0000. Continued claims, or the number of people already receiving unemployment benefits, fell by nearly 1 million. This marks the lowest level since March. The jobs report released Friday showed the U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs in September. This data was below expectations, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9%. The economy has now recovered about half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. Adding 11.4 million jobs from May through September.

The Week Ahead

Looking ahead, the path of COVID-19 and the presidential election will remain at the forefront of investors’ minds. In addition, the major banks will report results starting in less than two weeks. This will provide a good barometer of the health of the overall economy. President Trump’s health is a huge macro risk with far reaching financial market implications. Just weeks away from the Presidential election, it is clear anything can happen. The base case is for a full recovery. However, polls could move in the coming weeks as voters assess his health and his tone on the virus. Furthermore, the Supreme Court nomination and the battle over fiscal stimulus remain key topics. Neither of which look to be resolved easily. Fed chair Powell will offer insights into the economic outlook today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been on the attack for over seven months now. We are still anxiously awaiting a medical breakthrough that will help us better coexist with this virus. There is a good chance the virus may never go away, according to experts. In late September, Dr. Anthony Fauci, commented that COVID-19 vaccinations could begin as early as November or December. In all likelihood, a vaccine will not be available prior to election day on 11/3/20. As a result, things could get a bit bumpy in the markets in October based on the daily news feed. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.0%, S&P up 3.6%, and Nasdaq up 28.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a great week!

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