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The U.S. trade deficit increased by 5.9% to $67.1 billion in August, the highest level since August 2006. Imports returned to pre-pandemic levels surging 3.2% to $239 billion, fueled by pharmaceutical preparations, passenger cars, and crude oil. Exports rose at a slower 2.2% to $171.9 billion lead by soybean shipments. The report shows that while Americans continue to buy more imported goods, foreign demand for U.S. products is weak.
The number and rate of U.S. job openings stayed at 6.5 million and 4.4% respectively in August. The number of job openings dropped slightly for private (-242,000) and changed minimally for government. The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS also showed fewer openings in the construction and retail sectors, and fewer workers quitting their jobs. Hiring in August was on par with July, but quite a bit slower than May or June. Given that there were about 13 million unemployed and 6.5 million job openings, this shows an economy struggling with a significant job deficit.
The Labor Department reported slightly lower initial jobless claims with more than 840,000 workers filing for unemployment benefits for the week ending October 3rd. This was slightly lower than the prior week’s revised 849,000 figure but higher than the 820,000 forecasted. In addition, states reported over 464,000 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which targets self-employed workers. The figures assume California’s claim numbers remain unchanged, as the State has halted the processing of its initial claims for a second-straight week. Although the total initial jobless claims are at their lowest level since March, they are 4 times the pre-pandemic average and are well above the levels of the 2007-2009 recession.
Tuesday October 13 – Consumer Price Index
Friday October 16 – Retail Sales