Dressed Up for Data: Halloween Dawns with Numbers Galore, Stocks on Pace for Monthly Loss

Investors' heads might be spinning amid all the data this morning including manufacturing statistics from China, inflation and growth numbers from Europe, and employment costs here in the U.S. The Fed meeting begins today with no expectation of a rate hike.

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Key Takeaways

  • Overseas data dominates overnight as Euro inflation falls, BoJ tweaks yield control policy

  • China’s October manufacturing data unexpectedly fell, triggering ideas of possible new stimulus

  • Fed meeting begins today with no expectation of a hike, and 10-year yield hits 2-week low

(Tuesday market open) A scary October for stocks skids to the finish line today with major U.S. indexes on pace to post  their third straight monthly loss for the first time since early 2020 despite emerging from correction territory.

Major indexes enjoyed a rebound Monday with signs of technical buying in what some analysts called oversold conditions. This lifted the S&P 500® Index (SPX) after it fell 10% from the late-July peak, meeting Wall Street’s definition of a market “correction.” In what could bode well for today’s trading, stocks closed near their highs yesterday. However, Monday’s volume was lower than average, suggesting  a lack of firm conviction behind the rally. Major indexes generally climbed overnight in premarket trading.

“Yesterday was a nice bounce and the market’s internals were fair, but breadth was far from exceptional and nowhere near what you’d typically see at a firmer bottom in equities,” says Kevin Gordon, senior investment strategist at Schwab. “On the margin, some of the easing in rates, oil, and the dollar will help. But growth is still too strong for the Fed, so financial conditions are biased to tighten as opposed to ease.”

Breadth is a measurement of the number of stocks trending positively over time, with a larger number generally indicating a healthier climate for Wall Street. In a solid bull market, one would typically see 80% of S&P 500 stocks trading above their 50-day moving average a year after a major market low. The current percentage is 14%.

Wall Street is pushing through a thicket of data and earnings, including the Federal Reserve’s meeting that begins today and concludes at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday. Apple (AAPL) reports earnings after the close on Thursday, and Friday brings the monthly Nonfarm Payrolls report. Consensus from analysts is for around 170,000 new jobs in October.

The market builds in almost no chance of a Fed rate hike tomorrow, but a nearly one-third chance of an increase sometime in the next three months.

Morning rush

  • The 10-year Treasury note yield (TNX) fell to 4.82%, near two-week lows.
  • The U.S. Dollar Index ($DXY) slid to 106.06.
  • Cboe Volatility Index® (VIX) futures dropped to 19.27 after being above 20 last week.
  • WTI Crude Oil (/CL) rose slightly to $82.67 per barrel but remains near three-week lows.

Just in                                                                                                

There’s a host of economic data and earnings this morning, including a weaker-than-expected manufacturing reading from China, an earnings per share (EPS) miss from Pfizer (PFE), and a solid quarterly report from Caterpillar (CAT).

  • In addition, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) left interest rates unchanged but announced further tweaks to its yield-curve control policy that might help lift yields there as Japan deals with rising inflation for the first time in decades. This adjustment—the third since last December—is generally seen as bearish for U.S. Treasuries because it could make Japanese bonds more attractive to investors there, weakening demand for U.S. Treasury notes.
  • China’s manufacturing surprisingly contracted in October, according to the official NBS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report released earlier today. It came in at 49.5, versus analyst expectations for 50.2 and down from 50.2 in September. A reading of 50 or more indicates expansion. If softness continues, it might lead to additional economic stimulus from Beijing.
  • Heading west from China, inflation in the Eurozone eased while the area’s economy shrank 0.1% in Q3, down from market forecasts for a flat reading, according to Trading Economics. European shares rose overnight but, like U.S. shares, are on pace for a monthly loss. However, the easing inflation reading could lead to ideas that the European Central Bank (ECB) might be done with rate hikes. “At the same time, economic data in the region have been much weaker than in the U.S., so it’s an example of how disinflation in and of itself is not always a “good” economic signal in terms of demand,” says Schwab’s Gordon.
  • From a headline perspective, the U.S. Q3 Employment cost index out this morning looked benign. It rose 1.1% versus the Briefing.com consensus of 1%. It appears the rebound was driven by wages and salaries, which reaccelerated from 1% in Q2 to 1.2% in Q3, driven by firm growth in government salaries.
  • Just before the open loom the FHFA House Price Index and S&P CoreLogic CS Home Price Index, important updates on the U.S. housing market. Consensus is for a slight rise in home prices of about 0.3% in August, according to Briefing.com.

The data keep coming even when U.S. trading begins, as investors prepare for Chicago PMI and U.S. October Consumer Confidence. Analysts expect that report to hit the century mark, at 100 exactly for a headline figure, according to Briefing.com. That would be down from 103 in September. Expectations is the sub-category to watch in the report, as it fell sharply in September amid worsening sentiment around future business conditions and job availability.

Stocks in spotlight

Key earnings to watch later this week, other than Apple, include DuPont (DD), Humana (HUM), Kraft Heinz (KHC), Starbucks (SBUX), Qualcomm (QCOM), and Roku (ROKU). Unlike some weeks where one or two industries dominate, this week features a little of everything, so it’s important to take things one company at a time. EPS overall is outpacing analysts’ estimates, but revenue growth has been far slower than expected. Still, FactSet expects S&P 500 EPS to grow for the first time in a year, and we’re about halfway through the season.

Advanced Micro Devices chips in this afternoon following semiconductor earnings from Texas Instruments (TXN) and Intel (INTC) last week. Intel’s results raised positive sentiment in the slumping sector, but Texas Instruments saw shares decline on what some analysts called a cautious revenue forecast. Texas Instruments told analysts that “industrial weakness broadened” recently. This suggests softness in the industrial part of the economy continues.

When AMD reports, investors might focus on artificial intelligence (AI), a business where analysts see Nvidia (NVDA) as the sector leader. The challenge for AMD and others is to show how they can compete and grow share as AI develops. Shares of AMD fell to nearly six-month lows Monday.

The tech sector, chips in particular, is in the news for other reasons as well this morning: Apple announced a new family of chips last night for its Macs, and the Wall Street Journal reported that Nvidia’s $5 billion in orders to China might be canceled due to U.S. export curbs.

What to watch

Data docket: This week provides insight into manufacturing with tomorrow’s October Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index. Construction Spending is another October number due out tomorrow.

ISM Manufacturing has wallowed in contractionary mode below 50% for 11 straight months. Consensus for October is 49.0%, according to Briefing.com, unchanged from September. The question is whether there could be any improvement, but China’s October manufacturing softness announced earlier today might squelch hopes.

The September Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes out Wednesday. August’s tally topped expectations at 9.61 million, which was the highest since April and conflicted with investor impressions of a slowing jobs market. Analysts expect a drop to 9.23 million in September, according to Trading Economics.

Eye on the Fed

Early today, futures trading pegged chances at 98.2% of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) holding its benchmark funds rate at the current 5.25% to 5.50% target range following this week’s meeting, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. Chances of rates staying on pause following the FOMC’s December 12 meeting are 74.1%.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks at Wednesday’s post-meeting press conference come less than two weeks after he hinted that recent Treasury yield strength might have done some of the Fed’s work to slow inflation growth.

CHART OF THE DAY: STILL SINKING. The S&P 500 Equal-Weight Index (SPXEW—purple line) has trailed the S&P 500 (SPX—candlesticks) for most of the year, highlighting that the SPX remains propped by the so-called “Magnificent Seven” stocks despite their recent retreat. Data source: S&P Dow Jones Indices. Chart source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Thinking cap

Ideas to mull as you trade or invest

Extended pause: If the Fed keeps interest rates on pause Wednesday for the second straight meeting, it would be the first time since the period of late 2021–early 2022 that it’s done so back-to-back. The FOMC last raised rates one-quarter point in late July. The market still prices in a 24% chance the Fed could raise rates in December, but arguably a 25-basis-point increase after a rapid climb of more than 500 basis points won’t have a major effect on consumer and business borrowing trends. Ironically, stocks peaked right about when the Fed last hiked rates, and recently entered a correction, down 10% from the most recent 52-week high. “If the Fed pause were really that exciting, stocks would be up since July,” says Schwab’s Gordon. “Yet there has been no pause rally; it’s been the exact opposite.

Scary care costs: One frightening thing this Halloween season is the rising cost of childcare, Bank of America (BAC) said in a recent report. It’s risen 30% since 2019 and may be one element causing people to draw down their savings. Last week’s Personal Income and Personal Spending data from the government showed that the U.S. savings rate fell to the lowest level since December 2022, which ultimately could weigh on consumer sentiment and consumer spending—not necessarily helpful for the stock market. Rising childcare costs can also affect the jobs picture by driving some parents out of the workforce, according to Bank of America’s research. Specifically, among families that pay for childcare, there are fewer dual income households in 2023 than in 2019. “Our data finds families with childcare payments have been spending at a slower pace than the rest of the population since May,” the report said. “They are also dipping into savings at a faster rate. But the good news is that across income groups, even households that pay for childcare have considerable excess savings relative to 2019 levels, which could continue to provide a financial buffer.”

Talking technicals: There’s been a pattern lately where the market sells off Friday as investors fret over potential weekend geopolitical developments, then bounces back Monday if those events don’t raise too many new concerns. That appeared to be the case again, but recent weeks didn’t see stocks build on initial gains. The test now is whether Monday’s strength carries into coming days. The 10% correction line for the SPX is 4,130, marking the decline from its 2023 closing high of 4,588 on July 31.


Nov. 1: October ISM Manufacturing, September Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), September Construction Spending, Fed rate decision, and expected earnings from DuPont (DD), Humana (HUM), Kraft Heinz (KHC), American International (AIG), McKesson (MCK), PayPal (PYPL), Qualcomm (QCOM), and Roku (ROKU).

Nov. 2: September Factory Orders and expected earnings from ConocoPhillips (COP), and Apple (AAPL).

Nov. 3: October Nonfarm Payrolls, October ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, and expected earnings from Cardinal Health (CAH).

Nov. 6: No major earnings or data expected.

Nov. 7: September Consumer Credit and September Trade Balance, and expected earnings from D.R. Horton (DHI), Uber (UBER), Zimmer Biomet (ZBH), eBay (EBAY), and Rivian (RIVN).

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) and TD Ameritrade, Inc., members SIPC are separate but affiliated subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation. TD Ameritrade is a trademark jointly owned by TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. and The Toronto-Dominion Bank.


Key Takeaways

  • Overseas data dominates overnight as Euro inflation falls, BoJ tweaks yield control policy

  • China’s October manufacturing data unexpectedly fell, triggering ideas of possible new stimulus

  • Fed meeting begins today with no expectation of a hike, and 10-year yield hits 2-week low

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