Halloween Week Not So Scary on the Markets (Weekly Financial Review, Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 2011)
Halloween week wasn’t so scary in the markets, with very little movement on Monday at all, and increases on both Wednesday and Thursday in the major U.S. indexes. U.S. markets ended slightly down on Friday, after an unstable week of gains and losses. The S&P was the hardest hit, down -7.92 points, or 0.63% to 1,253.23. The Dow closed at 11,983.24, down -61.23 points, or 0.51%. The Nasdaq dropped -11.82 points, or 44%, to close at 2,686.15.
All three were down from Thursday, when the Dow closed above 12,000, but still ended the week higher than their closes on Wednesday.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released its most recent employment data, encompassing the month of October. The unemployment rate decreased by one tenth of a percent, bringing it to 9 percent even. Private employers reported the addition of 104,000 non-agricultural jobs. Local, state and federal governments cut some 24,000 jobs, bringing the total jobs gained to just about 80,000.
Gold and silver, which both took a hard fall in September, are on the rise again. Gold is up more than 7% in the past week. Electronically traded December contract gold closed at $1,771.90 per troy ounce; silver at $34.40. With the instability in Europe, it looks like gold and silver will continue to be popular safe havens.
Light, sweet crude for December delivery nudged up 0.20% to $94.26 per barrel. Heating oil gained more than one percent to close at $3.07; natural gas closed slightly up at $3.78. Cocoa futures dropped in both the U.S. and Great Britain, losing about 0.30%. Corn, coffee, and cotton all closed with gains.
Is No News Good News?
The U.S. Federal Reserve, which had its most recent meeting on Wednesday, did not disclose any plans to respond with new policies or actions if the economy fails to improve. The Fed is still staying put.
Europe, still feeling the impact from its debt woes, also ended the week on a low note. London’s FTSE 100 closed down -18.48 points at 5,527.16, a loss of -0.33%. France’s CAC-40 lost -2.25%, or 72.92 points and closed at 3,123.55. Germany’s Dax was the hardest hit, falling -2.72%, or 167.02 points to 5,966.16. The IBEX in Spain was down 116.20, or 1.33%, to 8,596.40.
Friday looked better in Asia, where the Nikkei closed up 161 points or 1.86%, at 8,801.40, and the Shanghai Composite gained 2.62%, or 109.30 points to end at 4,281.10.
The Hang Seng faired best of all, gaining just over 600 points to close at 19,842.80, with gains of 3.12%. All three were significantly up from Wednesday as well.
Toronto’s TSX Composite fell -60.10 points, just under half a percent, to end at 12,408.20.
Flooding in Thailand is expected to cause a 30% reduction in the amount of vehicles produced at Toyoto plants this month. Toyoto and Honda have already faced reduced production due to effects from the Japanese earthquake.