Summary

The major domestic equity indexes clocked in with record closing highs on Friday and the S&P 500 posted a sixth week of gains after the Senate passed a budget resolution, lifting hopes that President Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan may move forward.

The Senate’s approval late Thursday of a 2018 budget blueprint could pave the way for Republicans to pursue a tax-cut package without Democratic support.

Shares of General Electric reversed an early drop of 6.3 percent to end 1.1 percent higher, and the S&P industrials index also finished up 1.1 percent. GE’s new chief executive vowed to shed more than $20 billion worth of assets after the company’s quarterly results badly missed Wall Street’s expectations.

The S&P financials index, whose companies are expected to benefit from the administration’s proposed policies, rose 1.2 percent and its components were among the day’s best performers. The small-cap Russell 2000 index gained 0.5 percent. Small-cap companies are likely to get a boost from tax reform.

The Dow also registered a sixth week of gains while the Nasdaq posted its fourth. The S&P 500 was up 0.9 percent for the week while the Nasdaq added 0.4 percent.

Some investors saw little reason to worry about the extended climb while continuing to monitor news on potential candidates for the Federal Reserve chair position.

Politico reported Fed Governor Jerome Powell is the leading candidate to become Trump’s nominee for Chairman, which many would consider a continuation of the current stock market-friendly monetary policy.

Trump has indicated he is considering tapping both Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor for the central bank’s top two posts.

Also on the earnings front, PayPal’s stock rose 5.5 percent after upbeat earnings.

The pace of third-quarter reports should pick up next week, with results from Caterpillar and other big names.

Approximately 6.2 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that compares favorably against the 5.9 billion share daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Existing Home Resales Rebound

Existing home sales increased unexpectedly during September as the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma began to dissipate, but a persistent dearth of properties for sale continued to weigh on overall activity.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicated on Friday that existing home sales rose 0.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million units last month. August’s sales pace was unrevised.

Sales were down 1.5 percent from September 2016, the first year-over-year decline since July 2016.

Harvey, which hit Texas in the last week of August, and Irma, which battered Florida in early September, had already affected sales for August. Texas and Florida make up more than 18 percent of the nation’s existing home sales.

The NAR said that Houston’s market had recovered quickly, with a 4 percent gain in September compared to a year ago. Florida’s sales were still down 22 percent compared to this time last year.

Look for sales in the hurricane-affected areas to rebound even more once delays in sales fade. However, the overall housing sector has been slowing as the number of properties available has not kept up with demand.

Supply was down 6.4 percent from a year ago. Housing inventory has declined on a year-on-year basis for more than two years.

The median house price was $245,100 in September, a 4.2 percent rise from a year ago, reflecting the shortage of homes on the market.

“For as long as we have a housing shortage, this will lead to affordability issues,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said.

At the current sales rate, it would take 4.2 months to clear inventory, down from 4.5 months a year ago. A six-month supply is considered to be an acceptable balance between supply and demand.

The median number of days that homes were on the market in September was 34, compared to 39 days a year ago.

Across the regions, sales increased in the West by 3.3 percent and in the Midwest by 1.6 percent. They fell 0.9 percent in the South and were unchanged in the Northeast.

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