Weekly Economic Update: October 5, 2020

The Markets (as of market close October 2, 2020)

Despite the drop last Friday, stocks still managed to gain over the prior week. The Russell 2000 climbed 4.4%, followed by the Dow, which gained 1.9%. The S&P 500 climbed 1.5%, followed by the Nasdaq (1.5%) and the Global Dow (1.4%). Year to date, the Nasdaq is 23.4% over last year’s pace, followed by the S&P 500 (3.6%), the only two benchmark indexes ahead of their 2019 year-end closing marks.

Last Week’s Economic News

  • Employment rose by 661,000 in September. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment declined in government, mainly in state and local government education. Last month saw the unemployment rate decline by 0.5 percentage point to 7.9%, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 1.0 million. Both measures have declined for five consecutive months. In September, 22.7% of employed persons teleworked because of the COVID-19 pandemic, down from 24.3% in August.

  • The second-quarter gross domestic product showed the economy regressed at an annual rate of 31.4%. The decline in second-quarter GDP reflected the response to COVID-19, as “stay-at-home” orders issued in March and April were partially lifted in some areas of the country in May and June, and government pandemic assistance payments were distributed to households and businesses. This led to rapid shifts in activity, as businesses and schools continued to work remotely and consumers and businesses canceled, restricted, or redirected their spending. The decrease in GDP reflected decreases in personal consumption expenditures (consumer spending), exports, nonresidential (business) fixed investment, private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by an increase in federal government spending.

  • Personal income decreased in August, falling 2.7% after advancing 0.5% in July. Disposable, or after-tax, personal income also dropped, decreasing 3.2% in August after climbing 0.3% the previous month. Consumer spending, as measured by personal consumption expenditures, ticked up 1.0% following July’s 1.5% gain. Prices for consumer goods and services, as measured by the personal consumption expenditures price index, rose 0.3% in August after advancing 0.4% in July. Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have risen 1.4%.

  • The international trade in goods deficit was $82.9 billion in August, up 3.5% from July’s deficit. August exports were $118.3 billion, 2.8% greater than July exports. Imports in August were $201.3 billion, 3.1% above July imports. Exports of industrial supplies increased 10.6% in August over July, while automotive vehicle exports fell 0.7% after vaulting 46.3% in July. Driving imports were consumer goods (7.0%) and automotive vehicles (6.2%).

  • According to the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®, manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August. The September purchasing managers index (PMI®) registered 55.4%, down 0.6 percentage point from the August PMI®. Any reading over 50.0% indicates growth. The New Orders Index fell 7.4 percentage points from the August reading of 67.6%. The Production Index dropped 2.3 percentage points compared to the August reading of 63.3%. The Employment Index increased 3.2 percentage points from the August reading of 46.4%. The Inventories Index came in 2.7 percentage points higher than the August reading of 44.4%. The Prices Index climbed 3.3 percentage points compared to the August reading of 59.5%. The New Export Orders Index increased of 1 percentage point compared to the August reading of 53.3%. And the Imports Index was1.6 percentage point lower than the August reading of 55.6%

Eye on the Week Ahead

This week is a slow one for market-moving economic information. The Institute for Supply Management® report on the services sector for September is out this week. Services grew in August for the third consecutive month, and September is expected to continue that trend. Also out this week is the latest report on the international trade deficit for August. The July trade deficit was $63.6 billion, an increase of $10.1 billion over the June deficit.

Have a nice week!





Robert G. Carpenter

President & CEO
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors