The S&P 500 index rose on Monday with as financial, energy and defensive sectors were stronger despite a degree of caution that was evident on the eve of congressional elections.
While the financial sector saw its gains coming as a result of earnings, the energy sector, which has lagged the broader S&P 500 index this year, gained 1.6 percent as a result of a range of punitive sanctions on Iran.
A decline in Treasury yields helped defensive sectors such as real estate, utilities and consumer staples, which are sensitive to rising interest rates.
Opinion polls showed a strong chance of President Donald Trump’s Republican Party holding the Senate but losing control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats – a potential hurdle to Trump’s pro-business agenda, which has been a major driver of the stock market’s rally since the 2016 election. However, the S&P’s gain today could be a sign of optimism that the election “outcome will be friendly for business.
The real estate sector index closed up 1.7 percent making it the largest percentage gainer among the S&P 500’s 11 major sector indexes. The utilities sector index rose 1.4 percent while the consumer staples index was up 1.2 percent.
Berkshire Hathaway rose 5 percent providing the strongest enhancement to the S&P’s financial sector after the company indicated that its quarterly operating profit doubled.
A 2.8 percent decline in Apple represented the largest drag on Nasdaq after it was reported that Apple informed its smartphone assemblers to halt plans for additional production lines dedicated to the iPhone XR.
Apple chalked up its largest two-day loss since January 2013, after the company’s disappointing holiday-quarter forecast sent its shares down 6.6 percent on Friday.
Also coming up is the Federal Reserve’s two-day monetary policy meeting starting on Wednesday. They have been keeping a close eye on the prospects of tightening monetary policy, especially the recent series of relatively strong economic statistics, including Friday’s jobs report.
Approximately 7.07 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 8.76 billion share average of the last 20 trading days.
Earnings Growth Expected to be Highest Since 2010
Earnings growth for companies making up the S&P 500 index during the third quarter is likely to be the highest since 2010, eclipsing the strong results from earlier this year, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Stronger-than-expected earnings have pushed the estimate for third-quarter growth to 27.4 percent, based on results from 381 of the S&P 500 companies and estimates for the rest.
The growth estimate is well above the 21.6 percent growth for the quarter forecast by analysts on Oct. 1, and it would surpass the first quarter’s 26.6 percent growth and the second quarter’s 24.9 percent growth, based on Refinitiv data.
The last time quarterly profit growth was higher was in the fourth quarter of 2010, when it was 37.2 percent.
Strong profit growth this year has been fueled in part by the sweeping tax overhaul approved by Congress late last year. But investors have been concerned about rising tariff and other costs for companies that could result in a bigger step down in profit growth next year than analysts are expecting.
Before you get too excited, consider that earnings growth is expected to slow to 9 percent in 2019 from an estimated 23.9 percent this year, according to Refinitiv data.