Monday October 28th


S&P 500 set to hit new record at the open on strong earnings, trade-deal progress

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a banner session for Wall Street on Monday with the S&P 500 on track to hit a fresh all-time high at the open, lifted by strong earnings and progress on U.S.-China trade. S&P 500 futures indicated a 0.2% gain to start off the trading day. Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq 100 futures also pointed to a higher open. The broad index has been volatile since reaching its all-time high on July 26. Since then, the S&P 500 has posted 20 moves of at least 1% including three declines of more than 2.5% in August. However, the S&P 500 has been trading in a tight range since September, finding support around 2,900 while struggling to stay above 3,000. “The technical backdrop improved last week as the SPX finally distanced itself from the magnetic 3,000-point level,” Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray, said in a note. “A close above 3,026 will validate a record high breakout and likely open the door to a new leg higher.” The stocks that led the S&P 500 back to record levels are not the bull market’s usual suspects. Since July 26, Newell Brands, Lennar, Lam Research, PulteGroup and Target are the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500. Newell is up nearly 40% in that time while Lennar, Lam Research, PulteGroup and Target are all up more than 20%. Netflix — which is up more than 4,000% during the bull market — is down slightly since July 26. Amazon, another of the bull market’s best performers, is down around 10% since the S&P 500′s late-July record. Sentiment was lifted at the start of the week by strong earnings from companies such as Walgreens Boots Alliance, AT&T and Spotify. Those three companies posted quarterly profits that exceeded analyst expectations. Walgreens and AT&T shares rose more than 1% each while Spotify gained nearly 6% in the premarket. Those results continued a trend of companies surpassing analyst earnings estimates this reporting period. Of the 202 S&P 500 companies that have reported, 78%  have topped analyst expectations, according to FactSet. “The US equity markets have been surprised by the strength of the 3Q results,” said Sean Darby, global equity strategist at Jefferies, in a note. “With the US earnings season producing a positive string of results and investors positioning extremely risk averse alongside negative US real interest rates, we believe there is further upside for global equities.” Meanwhile, U.S. and Chinese officials said they were “close to finalizing” some parts of a trade agreement. Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua also pointed to progress being made on trade. The world’s two largest economies have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment. On the data front, advanced economic indicators for September and Dallas Fed manufacturing figures for October will be released prior to the market open. Major Asia Pacific markets were in positive territory by Monday afternoon, as the U.S. and China appeared close to finalizing a “phase one” trade deal. The Shanghai composite was up 0.85% to close at 2,980.05, while the Shenzhen composite jumped 1.53% to 1,657.38. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index bounced 0.76% in the final hour of trade. Over in Japan, the Nikkei 225 climbed 0.30% to 22,867.27, and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.27% to close at 2,093.60. Oil prices fell on Monday after strong gains last week, as data released in China reinforced signs that its economy is slowing, though progress in China-U.S. trade talks has supported prices. Brent crude was down 21 cents, or 0.3%, at $61.82 a barrel, having gained more than 4% last week, its best weekly gain since Sept. 20. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 22 cents, or 0.4%, at $56.45 a barrel, after rising more than 5% last week, also the biggest weekly increase since Sept. 20. Gold steadied on Monday after jumping 1% in the previous session as progress in U.S.-China trade talks limited further gains, and as caution set in ahead of this week’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting. Palladium meanwhile continued a record run linked to supply shortages to hit another all-time high. Spot gold was up 0.1% at $1,505.18 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures were 0.2% higher at $1,508.40 per ounce.