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Stock Market News For Oct 20, 2017

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The Dow Jones and S&P 500 overcame selling pressure and eked out records on Thursday that marked the 30th anniversary of the ’87 crash. Robust third-quarter earnings results provided a fillip to the equity market, with American corporations showing signs of strength on the back of an improving economy.

Meanwhile, political tensions in Europe and lackluster economic reports out of China failed to dent investors’ sentiment. On the other hand, a report that showed Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell is the leading candidate for the nominee for Fed chair boosted investors’ confidence. Appointment of Powell would represent a continuation of the central bank’s current regime.

The Nasdaq, however, bucked the broader trend to finish lower as shares of tech-behemoth Apple Inc (AAPL - Free Report) declined amid speculation of poor demand and cuts in production of iPhone 8. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Stock Market – Movers & Shakers!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 23,163.04, gaining a meagre 0.02%. The S&P 500 Index (INX) edged up 0.84 point to close at 2,562.10. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC), however, closed at 6,605.07, declining nearly 0.3%.

About 5.8 billion shares were traded on Thursday, lower than the last 20-session average of 5.9 billion shares. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1.04-to-1 ratio.

Stock Market Crash of 1987

Panic swept trading floors on Oct 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones plummeted by a then-record 508 points – a 22% decline in the index. By comparison, the notorious Black Tuesday crash of October 24, 1929, that preceded the Great Depression, saw stocks plunge by only 13%. 

A slew of reasons were given to the American public to justify the stock market crash. A weak dollar, inflation, trade deficit and conflict in the Middle East were cited to be some of the reasons that led to the crash.

However, the most popular explanation for the ’87 crash was selling by program traders. In program trading, computer automatically performs rapid stock executions based on the price of related securities. Thus, the selloff took place as the market was pricey and investors were over-bullish.

With U.S. stocks, currently, hovering at record territories, similar sort of sharp losses were feared. But, robust earnings kept the market from retreating too far.

Robust Start to Q3 Earnings

Among the 52 S&P 500 members that have reported so far, earnings are up 13.3% from the same period last year on 6.9% higher revenues, with 76.9% beating EPS estimates and 73.1% beating revenue estimates. Total third-quarter earnings, in fact, are expected to be up 3% from the same period last year on 4.9% higher revenues.

A very strong economic backdrop laid the path for another round of positive earnings growth in the third quarter. While a key yardstick of manufacturing activity in the U.S. scaled a 13-year high in September, non-manufacturing activity rallied to a 12-year high. Additionally, U.S. GDP expanded 3.1% in the second quarter, which is close to the range expected by President Trump and some other Republicans.

Stocks That Made Headlines

Skechers' Positive Earnings Surprise in Q3 Lifts Stock

After witnessing a negative earnings surprise of 13.6% in the second quarter of 2017, Skechers USA Inc. (SKX - Free Report) made a sharp come back in the third quarter with the bottom line outperforming the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 37.2% (Read More)

Rite Aid Sharpens Edge: Adds Apple Pay Option Online

Rite Aid Corporation (RAD - Free Report) revealed that it is now accepting Apple Pay as a mode of payment on its website. This marks another step in the drugstore chain’s omni-channel initiatives (Read More)

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