Weekly Economic Update: November 16, 2020

The Markets (as of market close November 13, 2020)
Stocks closed the week on a high note as cyclicals and value stocks prevailed over tech shares. The Dow and the S&P 500 each gained 1.4%, the Global Dow rose 1.1%, and the Nasdaq gained 1.0%. The big winner last Friday was the Russell 2000, which vaulted 2.1% on the day. Crude oil prices and the dollar declined, while Treasury yields gained nearly 1.0%. While each of the major market sectors advanced, the market was led by energy, real estate, and industrials. Tech shares gained less than 1.0%.

The indexes posted notable gains for the second consecutive week as both the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 rallied to all-time highs. The Dow advanced to its pre-pandemic level. The Nasdaq, which had been a consistent gainer through much of the year, was the only major benchmark to lose value, as investors pulled away from tech stocks and moved to shares influenced by changes in the overall economy. News that vaccine test results were in the 90% efficacy range outweighed mounting COVID-19 cases. For the first time since late January, all but one of the major indexes we follow were ahead of their respective 2019 year-end closing values, and the Russell 2000 was only 0.06 percentage point away.

Last Week’s Economic News

  • The Consumer Price Index was unchanged in October after advancing 0.2% in September. Over the past 12 months, the CPI has increased 1.2%.
  • Prices at the producer level advanced 0.3% in October after climbing 0.4% in September. For the last 12 months ended in October, producer prices are up 0.5%.
  • October, the first month of the federal government’s fiscal year 2021, saw a deficit of $284.1 billion.
  • According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report for September, the number of job openings increased by 84,000, the number of hires decreased by 81,000, and the number of total separations fell by 25,000. The job openings rate was unchanged at 4.3%. The number of job openings decreased over the year to 6.6 million (-566,000), reflecting the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market. Over the 12 months ended in September, hires totaled 70.4 million and separations totaled 76.4 million, yielding a net employment loss of 6.0 million.
  • For the week ended November 7, there were 709,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 48,000 from the previous week’s level.


Eye on the Week Ahead

Housing, retail, and industrial production are economic sectors in the news this week. October reports on housing starts and existing home sales are expected to reveal continued strength in the housing sector. Industrial production scaled back a bit in September following a robust August. October’s figures should show continued growth, but at a slower pace. The October retail sales report is out this week. Sales at the retail level advanced nearly 2.0% in September and could continue to climb as more businesses reopen following pandemic-related shutdowns.

Have a nice week!





Robert G. Carpenter

President & CEO
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors