Before The Bell - What a week it has been on Wall Street. To recap, after a ho-hum session to start the five-day span on Monday, the stock market moved into selling mode on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had been on a veritable tear for weeks, losing 457 points and 517 points, respectively. Behind this selling were cautionary comments from infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday and economic warnings from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday.
Worse for the bulls, the market started Thursday's session notably to the downside, and within a half hour, or so, the blue-chip composite was off by more than 450 points. At that point, a rout looked to be on. Causing the market to retreat further in the morning was the release of another dismal report on weekly layoffs, as new jobless claims totaled nearly three million for the past seven days. Not only was that tally above consensus, but it also brought the number of such filings to 36.5 million for the past eight weeks.
But that would prove the low point for the session. Indeed, stocks would begin to quickly rebound from that point, and by 11; 00 AM (EDT), the Dow was back in the black where it would stay for the balance of the trading day, finally ending matters with a sizable gain. All told, the Dow would gain 377 points; the S&P 500 Index would rise 33 points; and the NASDAQ would tack on 80 points. Higher oil prices and a vigorous rally in bank stocks helped to fuel the impressive comeback during the week's penultimate session.
Among individual issues, banking giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C) led the way higher in the latest session. Also advancing nicely were shares of American Express (AXP). Tech companies also fared well, adding to their recent gains. Despite this comeback, the market is lower for the week thus far, with the Dow turning in its worst performance since late March. Uncertainty about the direction of the economy and doubts about the effectiveness of efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are still weighing on equity market sentiment, overall.
Looking ahead to the final session of the week and ahead of issuances this morning on industrial production, factory utilization, and consumer sentiment, the leading equity averages are poised to start the week's final trading day to the downside. This likely setback follows a mixed showing in Asia overnight and some modest early improvement in Europe so far this morning. – Harvey S. Katz, CFA