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Stock Market News for October 15, 2013

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Benchmarks continued to move upward as investors remained optimistic that lawmakers are closer to sealing a deal which will end the partial government shutdown and increase the nation’s debt limit. The Dow and the S&P 500 finished in the green for the fourth consecutive day. Congress must increase the county’s borrowing limit before October 17 in order to avoid possible default on its debt. The health care sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups. The utilities sector was the only loser.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article   

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.4% to close the day at 15,301.26. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1,710.14. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.6% to end at 3,815.27. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) climbed 2.2% to settle at 16.07. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 4.77 billion shares, considerably lower than 2013’s average of 6.0 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For 56% shares that advanced, 40% declined. 

Stocks began yesterday’s trading session lower after weekend negotiations between Democrats and Republicans failed to seal a deal. But indices erased their initial losses soon after Senate leaders said they were heading in the right direction towards reaching an agreement. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell met for half an hour. After the meeting Reid said: “We're working on everything.” He was "very optimistic" that Congress will seal a deal.   
President Barack Obama said: “My hope is that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward in the next few hours.” According to a statement from the White House, a meeting between President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders which was originally scheduled yesterday at 3pm ET was postponed. The meeting was postponed to give lawmakers “time to continue making progress” to find a solution to  the impasse.             
The third quarter earnings season gets into high gear this week, with more than 160 companies reporting their quarterly results, including 70 companies from S&P 500. Major companies like Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) are scheduled to report their quarterly results this week. According to Thomson Reuters data, earnings of the S&P 500 companies are expected to grow by 4.2% this quarter. This is sharply below their earlier forecast of 8.5%.
On the international front, China’s annual consumer inflation touched a seven-month high in September.  According to the China’s National Bureau of Statistics, annual consumer inflation climbed to 3.1% from 2.6%. This was higher than the market forecast of 2.9%.  On the other hand, China’s exports declined unexpectedly by 0.3% in September. 
The healthcare sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Health Care SPDR (XLV) gained 0.7%. Stocks such as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE:GSK), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) increased 0.4%, 1.1%, 1.9%, 0.3% and 2.2%, respectively.
Utilities sector was the only loser among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Utilities SPDR (XLU) lost 0.5%. Stocks such as Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (NYSE:PEG), Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC), PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), Consolidated Edison, Inc. (NYSE:ED) and Edison International (NYSE:EIX) slipped 0.5%, 1.1%, 0.9%, 0.5% and 0.5%, respectively.

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