Weekly Economic Update: October 21, 2019

The Markets (as of market close October 18, 2019)

For the second week in a row, the major benchmark indexes (except for the Dow) posted gains last week. Stocks got a boost from some strong third-quarter earnings reports as several large financial institutions recorded strong earnings. The S&P 500 came close to reaching its record high earlier in the week, while the small caps of the Russell 2000 surged ahead by more than 1.50%. Long term Treasuries saw yields fall slightly as prices inched up on news of another stalemate on new attempts to reach a Brexit accord and weak U.S. retail figures.


  • Retail sales fell 0.3% in September after climbing 0.6% in August. However, retail sales are up 4.1% over September 2018.
  • Industrial production fell 0.4% in September after vaulting 0.8% in August, according to the latest report from the Federal Reserve. Total industrial production is 0.1% lower in September than it was a year earlier. This report highlights the impact weakening demand for U.S. exports is having on manufacturing.
  • Residential construction could be in for a slowdown in the fall. Building permits for residential housing fell 2.7% in September after climbing in August. Housing starts also went down 9.4% last month, while home completions fell as well a similar 9.7%. On the plus side, building permits for single-family homes climbed 0.8% in September and single-family housing starts inched up 0.3%. On the other hand, single-family home completions decreased 8.6% from their August totals.


The latest information on the housing sector is available this week. Sales of existing homes got a much needed boost in August, while new home sales continued to surge. Also out this week is the September report on durable goods orders. New orders have risen for 3 consecutive months, but are still down 0.4% over the past 12 months ended in August.