The October markets rally shows no signs of cooling off
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Good morning, Bull Sheeters. The global markets continue to rally as U.S. stocks have all but recovered from the September swoon. The S&P 500 finished higher at 3446.83 on Thursday, in line with its Sept. 3 close. That’s as stimulus hopes and big M&A news take investors’ minds off increasing coronavirus cases and the steady drip-drip-drip of layoffs.
Let’s check in on the action.
- The major Asia indexes were mostly higher in early afternoon trading with the Shanghai Composite up 1.7% as the index reopened after the holidays.
- The China brand is very much a tarnished one as a new Pew Research Center survey showed that respondents from 14 countries now hold a negative view of the country. “And yet, across the 14 nations surveyed, a median of 48% of those polled identified China as the world’s leading economic power, eclipsing the U.S.,” Fortune‘s Eamon Barrett reports.
- Sorry, oil bulls. Peak oil has already arrived for much of the world’s richest economies. The source? Some green-energy long beards? Nope. It’s OPEC, itself.
- The European bourses are mixed with the Europe Stoxx 600 up 0.2% at the open.
- As coronavirus cases spike, and ICU beds fill up, France plans to put more cities on high-alert. That’s as the numbers climb in Great Britain, Spain, Germany and Italy.
- EasyJet shares were up 1% at the open after the discount airline on Thursday detailed its 2.3 billion pounds ($3 billion) cash position was enough to weather a rough winter, but not much beyond that.
- U.S. futures are up slightly as the on-again-off-again stimulus talks just won’t die. That’s enough to keep investors happy despite the fact the two sides seem really far apart on an agreeable number.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. labor market looks wobbly. The jobless claims number came in yesterday at a worse-than-expected 840,000. Before any reader emails me to say I’m being a real downer, consider this: That figure has been above 800,000 every Thursday for seven straight months. A lot of Americans are really suffering.
- Shares in Morgan Stanley are up nearly 1% in pre-market trading after the firm announced its acquisition of mutual fund Eaton Vance for $7 billion. The Wall Street giant is looking to push into the less risky wealth management business. Here’s a reminder for why wealth management has become such a strategic imperative for banks in an era of low interest rates and in a shaky, pandemic-stricken economy.
- Gold is up, nudging above $1,910/ounce.
- The dollar is down.
- Crude is flat, with Brent trading above $43/barrel.
By the numbers
A week ago at this time, the U.S. futures were in freefall as news broke that President Trump had tested positive for COVID. But that proved to be a mere pause in an otherwise impressive rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 608.61 points (+2.2%) over the past five trading days. And the blue chip index has now closed higher in eight out of the past 11 trading sessions. Judging by this morning’s futures, it looks set to extend those gains further. So much for the analysis that investors would be wise to pull out of the market and wait until after Election Day.
Let’s go to commodities now. No, not to gold. Not copper. Not crude. Silver. The precious metal is up 33.7% YTD, the best performing commodity of 2020—better than gold, even. The silver trade is far more indicative of how the global economy is doing as more than half of what’s mined is used in industrial processes. As demand for silver goes up it’s a sign that vital manufacturing sectors are chugging into high gear. Now, it’s important to note that the silver trade is prone to nasty bumps. It plummeted in September, but it’s still outpacing the field this year, as this great Wall Street Journal asset-tracker shows:
This item comes straight from Federal Reserve Bank data. The central bank calculates that America’s most affluent—the top 1%—have a combined wealth of $34.2 trillion. The poorest 50% of wage-earners, meanwhile, top out at a combined $2.08 trillion. Trillions sounds like a lot, until you put it in that perspective. Bloomberg took this data, and then calculated from its Billionaires Index that the 50 richest Americans have a combined wealth that’s nearly equivalent to the bottom 50%. It’s a reminder that the pandemic has exacerbated wealth inequality in much of the developed world, and that the damage will endure long after data shows the economy is back to pre-pandemic levels.
Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you here on Monday.
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A 10% swing for stocks. What would a stimulus deal mean for the markets? Failure to reach an accord would translate to a 5% hit, Dan Ives at Wedbush Securities tells Fortune's Anne Sraders. And if an agreement is reached? A healthy rally.
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Quote of the day
Can we do M&A, or acquisitions, to bolster our technology platforms? An absolute yes, no qualifications. We're open for business.
That's IBM CEO Arvind Krishna who told Fortune's Aaron Pressman and Jonathan Vanian that the tech giant is in acquisition mode after spinning off its IT services unit. The stock closed 6% higher yesterday on the news.