10/30/2017
U.S. equities extended their run higher to seven straight weeks, although they needed a late boost from technology stocks to do it. Last week’s gain was just 0.2 percent, but it was enough to keep the streak alive, over which time the S&P 500 has climbed almost 5 percent. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged by 2.2 percent on Friday following better than expected third quarter earnings results from Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Amazon alone rose 13 percent on the day. And while the technology sector captured most of the headlines last week, it was not the only group delivering strong results. In fact, Factset now estimates third quarter earnings growth to be 4.7 percent, up from 1.7 percent just last week.

The dollar also rose once again last week, and since September 8, has climbed almost 4 percent, trimming what had been a 10.6 percent decline in the DXY index since the start of the year to 7.2 percent. 

It wasn’t just earnings that contributed to the rise in sentiment. Third quarter GDP rose 3.0 percent per the advance estimate, surpassing the 2.6 percent Bloomberg consensus estimate, and defying forecasts of a hurricane induced slowdown from the 3.1 percent pace of the second quarter. It was the first back-to-back growth of 3 percent or better since the second and third quarters of 2014. Personal consumption slowed somewhat from the second quarter, as did business investment, and housing was a drag on the overall total. But inventories and trade more than made up the difference.
 
Congress Clears the Way for Tax Reform; Meanwhile the ECB reduces QE

Congress edged a little closer to delivering on tax reform, at least procedurally, as the House passed the fiscal 2018 budget resolution. Details of the proposed tax bill are expected to be unveiled this Wednesday. Of course, there is still work to be done, as many Republican members from high-tax states in the northeast voted no in opposition to the proposed restriction on the deductibility of state and local taxes, although reports over the weekend suggest that the property tax deduction may well be preserved. Democratic House members were unanimous in their opposition to the resolution.

And if all that wasn’t enough to generate enthusiasm among equity investors, the European Central Bank (ECB) delivered on its widely expected plan to reduce its quantitative easing (QE) program beginning next year, but did so in such a way that left the open the possibility of extending the program beyond the targeted September end date should conditions warrant. It also said it would maintain low interest rates well beyond the cessation of quantitative easing.
 
Investors welcomed the dovish tone to the announcement and promptly drove Eurozone stocks higher and the euro lower. The EuroStoxx 50 index closed out the week with a two-day gain of 1.7 percent following the ECB’s announcement. Over the same two days the euro fell from 1.18 to 1.16 against the dollar. The EuroStoxx index has now risen for eight straight weeks, gaining 6 percent, despite stocks in Spain falling for the third week, although the decline was modest.

Japanese stocks also continued their own seven-week streak of uninterrupted gains, as the Nikkei index climbed another 2.6 percent bringing its rise since September 8 to 14.2 percent, more than doubling the gains in the Eurozone and almost tripling the advance of the S&P 500.
 
Investors Keeping an Eye on Economic Data
     
Treasury yields were little changed last week, but were hardly dormant along the way. After ending the previous week at a yield of 2.38 percent, the ten-year note surged as high as 2.47 percent in early trading last Friday, only to end the day at 2.41 percent. Bonds are likely to remain somewhat jittery this week. We are likely to learn who the president’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve will be, and the two presumed front runners, Powell and Taylor are viewed as being on opposite ends of the dove/hawk spectrum. And while little of consequence is expected from it, the Fed does meet this week.
 
On Friday, investors will also see the October jobs report, which is expected to show a sizeable rebound from the hurricane distorted decline of 33,000 jobs in September. The Bloomberg consensus forecast is calling for the creation of 310,000 new jobs, with the unemployment rate remaining at 4.2 percent and year-over-year average hourly earnings dipping to 2.7 percent from 2.9 the month prior. Also on the calendar is personal income and spending, the Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) deflator for September, consumer confidence, as well as both ISM and Markit readings on manufacturing and services activity. And roughly 25 percent of S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report their third quarter earnings.
 
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The views expressed are as of the date given, may change as market or other conditions change, and may differ from views expressed by other Ameriprise Financial associates or affiliates. Actual investments or investment decisions made by Ameriprise Financial and its affiliates, whether for its own account or on behalf of clients, will not necessarily reflect the views expressed. This information is not intended to provide investment advice and does not account for individual investor circumstances.
The S&P 500 is an index containing the stocks of 500 large-cap corporations, most of which are American. The index is the most notable of the many indices owned and maintained by Standard & Poor's, a division of McGraw-Hill.
The NASDAQ composite index measures all NASDAQ domestic and international based common type stocks listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) measures the dollar's value against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies.
The EURO STOXX 50 is a market capitalization-weighted stock index of 50 large, blue-chip European companies operating within eurozone nations. The universe for selection is found within the 18 Dow Jones EURO STOXX Supersector indexes, from which members are ranked by size and placed on a selection list. 
The Nikkei index is a price-weighted average of 225 stocks of the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The ISM manufacturing index is a national manufacturing index based on a survey of purchasing executives at roughly 300 industrial companies.
Markit PMI data are closely-watched market-moving economic indicators, covering more than 30 advanced and emerging economies worldwide.
Indexes are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.
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