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Another New High for the S&P 500

CONSUMER SENTIMENT DECLINES FOR NOVEMBER

The University of Michigan’s monthly gauge of how households perceive current and future economic conditions ended the month at a mark of 98.5. Compared to the 100.7 final October reading, this was a disappointment. Still, the index was up 5.0 points year-over-year. Richard Curtin, the economist in charge of the consumer survey, noted that the index has hovered near “the highest levels since 2004” since January.1

   

HOME BUYING GETS A FALL BOOST

Existing home sales rose 2.0% in October, surpassing the consensus 0.7% gain forecast by analysts polled by Investing.com. Elsewhere in its latest monthly report, the National Association of Realtors revised September’s minor advance in home buying down to 0.4%.2

  

LEADING INDICATORS TAKE A MAJOR LEAP

After a decline of 0.2% in September, the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators soared 1.2% for October. This was double the gain forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. This surge in the 10-component index may signal an impressive fourth quarter.3

  

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Dow Surges above 23,000

SEPTEMBER SAW SLIGHTLY MORE HOME BUYING

Existing home sales advanced 0.7% last month, according to a National Association of Realtors report. This gain broke a 3-month streak of retreats. Single-family home sales rose 1.1%. Housing inventory increased 1.6% last month, but it was still 6.4% under year-ago levels.1

GROUNDBREAKING FALLS TO A 12-MONTH LOW

Housing starts slumped 4.7% in September, the Census Bureau reported last week. Building permits also declined, decreasing 4.5%. Fall hurricanes may have slowed construction activity, but investment in homebuilding was also down 7.3% year-over-year during the second quarter.2

DOW SURGES ABOVE 23,000; GOLD DROPS

Across last week, the Dow Industrials climbed

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Hurricanes Hurt September Job Numbers

HURRICANES HURT SEPTEMBER JOB NUMBERS

For the first time in seven years, the economy went a month without payroll growth. The Department of Labor’s September employment report revealed the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: it showed 33,000 fewer people working. Average hourly wages rose 0.5% to take the annualized gain to 2.9%, but this may have been an effect of the net loss of 105,000 lower-paying bar and restaurant jobs. In a statistical fluke, the headline jobless rate fell to 4.2%, and the U-6 rate, counting the underemployed, declined to 8.3%, even as slightly more Americans looked for work.1

ISM FACTORY PMI TOPS 60

Rising 2.0 points for September, the Institute for Supply Management’s factory purchasing manager index hit 60.8, its best mark since May 2004. ISM’s service sector PMI also made a nice leap in September, ascending 4.5 points to 59.8, its highest result since August 2005. Analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal expected the services PMI to tick down to 55.2 last month.2

OIL HAS FIRST DOWN WEEK IN MORE THAN A MONTH

WTI crude settled at $49.29 on the NYMEX Friday, slipping 4.6% lower for the week. While Tropical Storm Nate put a drag on Gulf Coast oil production, traders also sensed OPEC members may retain caps on crude output through 2018.3

STOCKS START THE QUARTER WITH GAINS

Blue chips set the pace

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Wall Street Wraps Up a Good Week & Month

PERSONAL SPENDING BARELY IMPROVES

Consumer spending increased by only a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in August, while consumer incomes rose 0.2%. Those gains precisely matched the projections of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Factoring in inflation, household spending actually retreated 0.1% during August. Hurricane Harvey may be partly to blame for these numbers.1

ROUNDING UP REAL ESTATE INDICATORS

Census Bureau data shows new home buying down 3.4% in August; this dip comes on the heels of a (revised) 5.5% fall in July. Pending home sales, as measured by a National Association of Realtors index, slipped 2.6% in August after retreating 0.8% a month earlier. The 12-month gain for the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index improved 0.2% to 5.8% in the July edition (released last week).2

  

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Positive News from Main Street

SEPTEMBER BRINGS A MEDIOCRE JOBS REPORT

The Department of Labor’s latest employment snapshot shows payrolls expanding by 156,000 net new jobs in August. This was a retreat from the job gains of 200,000+ reported in both June and July. The headline jobless rate ticked up to 4.4%; the U-6 rate, which factors in the underemployed, held steady at 8.6%. Annualized wage growth remained stuck at 2.5%.1

 

POSITIVE NEWS FROM MAIN STREET

Climbing once again, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index ascended 2.9 points to 122.9 in August. That topped the forecast of economists surveyed by MarketWatch, who anticipated a 122.5 reading. Additionally, the Department of Commerce said that consumer spending advanced 0.3% in July, up from 0.2% in June. Household incomes rose 0.4% in July; they were unchanged in June.2

   

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