Stimulus setback and pandemic factors weigh in heavily on Wall Street


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Markets meandered through the middle of the earnings season as September retail sales gave it the confidence that America’s economic engine – spending by its consumers – was intact. The IPO market continues to be hot with a slew of mortgage companies looking to tap the market at a time when housing demand is looking strong. Too many outside factors – looming Presidential elections, rising coronavirus cases, and others – are worrying the markets.

Top stories this week

Wall Street Meanders, looks for earnings clues

Three consecutive days of losses dominated Wall Street this week. The final day’s rally could not make up for the lost ground as Dow ended about 0.5 percent in the red for the week at 28,606.31. The S&P 500 eked out its third week of gains by the skin of the teeth, up less than a point. Nasdaq composite closed with a 0.8 percent gain for the week at 11,671.56.

Markets are keeping a close watch on the earnings season and stock-specific action is expected by traders. The performance of the S&P 500 companies is expected to be better than Q2 with investors focusing on companies that do better after last quarter’s underperformance, the weakest performing quarter in over 10 years.

Snap Summary
With no stimulus announcement, weaker economic momentum, rising coronavirus cases the markets may have to keep one eye on a variety of external factors next week. Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly announced setbacks on their vaccine programmes, adding to the muted sentiment.

September retail sales promise august moments ahead

U.S. retail sales grew 1.9 percent during September, driving optimism in the markets worried about the fragile economy. Americans spent more on automobiles, clothing, books, and music while electronics and appliances registered a fall in sales. Automobile sales were up 3.6 percent for the month and 10.9 percent above September 2019.

During August, retail sales had registered a 0.6 percent growth. The better than expected retail sales data has sparked optimism for a good festival season ahead. The fifth consecutive month of retail sales growth helped the market turn around for the week.

Snap Summary
Consumer income and sentiment has received a boost from the one-time federal stimulus check, stock market gains, and payments received for unemployment insurance. Monthly consumer spending is closely watched since it drives nearly 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

Pfizer may seek emergency-use authorisation for vaccine

Pfizer has said that it could seek emergency-use authorisation for its vaccine in the U.S. by late November if it is found to be effective during trials being carried out currently. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in an open letter published on the company website that if the data from the field studies is positive, the company will apply for the emergency-use authorisation.

Safety reviews, as set by the USFDA, must find that 50 percent of those undergoing trials must be watched for possible side effects for two months. Pfizer had been working with German partner BioNTech SE. The trials being carried out by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have been put on hold by the USFDA.

Snap Summary
The Pfizer partnership and Moderna are front-runners in testing Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. Both are testing what is called messenger RNA vaccines, a new type of vaccine that turns the body’s own cells into tiny vaccine-making factories. This technology has never been used in an approved vaccine before.

European regulator says Boeing 737 Max safe to fly

Boeing 737 Max has been declared safe to fly by Europe’s aviation regulator. With the nod from European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) the planes could start flying again before the end of 2020. Boeing is yet to implement a software-driven change that the regulator has demanded, which could take up to 2 years to complete.

The device which monitors whether a plane is pointed up or down relative to the oncoming air, malfunctioned in both crashes in March 2019. The Federal Aviation Authority is still to complete its review process and the documentation for the review process is expected from Boeing shortly.

Snap Summary
After the two incidents in March 2019 in Indonesia and Ethiopia that had left 346 people dead, the 737 Max had been grounded. It caused a crisis for Boeing that led to cancelled orders, cost it billions of dollars, and the then CEO Dennis Muilenburg his job.

Red hot IPO market drives mortgage lenders

Mortgage companies are on a roll. With the IPO market booming and housing companies reporting steady demand, lenders are now looking to go public. Rocket Companies (RKT) is up over 20 percent from its IPO price after its listing in August and United Wholesale Mortgage is expected to go public with a SPAC deal. Caliber Home Loans and AmeriHome have announced IPO plans while is evaluating its options.

Demand for housing has been unusually strong despite the pandemic. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the average size of loans to purchase a home has seen a record for several weeks. The extended weakness in mortgage rates is also driving the refinance market.

Snap Summary
Home mortgage rates have hit record low in October as bankers are expecting volumes to see a decline in the years ahead. Falling mortgage rates have encouraged more buyers into the market, especially first-time buyers. Strong demand is being seen in the more affordable regions.


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