Despite its reputation for being the worst trading month of the year – and amid continued volatility – the first half of October has actually been uncharacteristically positive for all the major markets. News on the labor front contributed to gains. Last week’s jobs reports indicated that new weekly unemployment claims came in under 300,000 (293,000 to be specific) for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Quarterly earnings have also been surprisingly positive. Better than expected reports from several major banks helped fuel a market rally at the end of last week. Early indications are that those positive numbers will extend beyond banks. As of last Friday, 41 of the S&P 500 companies had reported their third-quarter earnings. Of them, 81% reported higher than expected earnings-per-share.
Retail sales numbers for the month of September showed a marked improvement from the previous month – and a significant increase over September of 2020. Elsewhere, inflation remains elevated, but there are signs that it may be moderating. September inflation numbers came in slightly lower than Wall Street expectations.
As of October 15th, the markets all posted positive returns. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) gained 1,451 points (4.29%), The S&P 500 grew by 164 points (3.8%) and the NASDAQ Composite Index (NASDAQ) increased by 449 (3.11%).