Markets Still Seeking Equilibrium

Markets fought bravely into the green following a soft open to start a new trading week, only to slide back into the red midday, then slide to session lows right at the close of regular trading. The Dow dropped -245 points, -0.72%, and trades beneath 34,500 once again. The S&P 500 was down -0.69%, -30 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq went -0.64% on the day. The small-cap Russell 2000 fell -0.56%.



Materials and Real Estate led industries, while Communication Services and Utilities were down. Oil prices spiked, with the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot price reaching its highest level in seven years. The 10-year bond sticks at 1.6%; bond markets were closed Monday to honor Indigenous Peoples and Christopher Columbus, and will open for trading once again Tuesday morning.



Further analysis of the U.S. labor market took hold upon discussions of Southwest Airlines LUV difficulties over the weekend, where the major airline carrier cancelled some 2000 flights since Saturday. Aside from weather issues, the company cited a “worker shortage;” some analysts are interpreting this as an internal battle between the front office and labor. Shares of the stock tumbled -4.2% by Monday’s close.



There are reportedly 11 million open jobs in the U.S. right now — many of which offer relatively low pay in “people-facing” service industries, where issues like Covid infection remain high on workers’ lists of concerns. Of the 3.1 million fewer people in the workforce from February 2020 — the last month prior to the pandemic shutdown — 2 million of these are women. New retiree numbers have surged since the pandemic began, and a dearth of immigrants for the past five years have put a damper on that job growth.



Markets appear to continue seeking some sort of equilibrium, but now seem to be taking a downward bias as opposed to last week, which was more positive. Perhaps news of progress in the passage of one or both infrastructure bills into law might salve market irritation. Relying on the Fed to announce the start of its asset tapering will likely have to wait another four weeks: the next two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting is not until November 2nd-3rd.



In the meantime, Q3 earnings reports are on deck for finished goods supplier Fastenal FAST Tuesday and JPMorgan JPM and Delta Air Lines DAL Wednesday. Once the first wave of reports have filtered through, we’ll have a better idea of how the quarter — and projections for the full year — are transpiring. Currently, with only a smattering of Q3 earnings data, results are thus far slightly underwhelming.

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