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Stock futures jumped Thursday morning heading into the first session of October and the fourth quarter, supported by expectations that Washington could provide more stimulus money for a recovery that may be losing momentum.
Contracts on the Dow were up more than 220 points, or 0,8%, shortly before 7:30 a.m. ET, with shares of Boeing (BA) and Honeywell (HON) each gaining more than 2%. Apple (AAPL) and Intel (INTC) each also rose more than 1%.
The three major indices closed out September lower, with the S&P 500 falling nearly 4% for its first monthly loss since March. Each of the S&P 500, Nasdaq and Dow posted their worst Septembers since 2011.
But zooming out to include trading from July and August, equities’ third-quarter performance held up much more strongly. The S&P 500 posted its best third-quarter advance since 2010 with a rise of 8.5%, led by the Amazon-heavy (AMZN) consumer discretionary sector with a quarterly gain of nearly 15%.
Investors are bracing for the potential for September’s volatility to carry over into October, with political uncertainty top of mind. Markets’ hopes for a fiscal stimulus package before the general election dimmed on Wednesday, after more talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not produce an agreement on new virus relief measures, though the two officials said they made progress and planned to discuss further.
The economic situation at the hands of the pandemic remains dire. Major airlines have collectively announced plans to cut some 30,000 airline workers after contingencies tied to federal coronavirus relief aid they received earlier this year expire on Wednesday.
And a host of companies across industries announced new forthcoming job cuts this week, indicating that the historic workforce reductions taking place earlier this year amid the pandemic had not finished yet. Disney (DIS) said Tuesday it would be cutting 28,000 workers across its resort business, and insurance giant Allstate (ALL) on Wednesday announced an about 8% workforce reduction impacting some 3,800 jobs. Goldman Sachs (GS) is also reportedly looking to cut about 400 jobs, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, and the oil major Shell (RDS-B) announced plans to cut up to 9,000 jobs by 2022.
The forthcoming labor market reports Thursday and Friday will not capture these planned layoffs. The Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report Thursday morning showed that another 837,000 people filed first-time unemployment insurance claims for the week ended Sept. 26.
That was below consensus forecasts of 850,000 and a marginal improvement from the previous week’s 870,000 — but the fifth straight week that new claims totaled fewer than 1 million. Meanwhile, Friday’s monthly jobs report – the last before the election – is expected to show a fifth straight month of net payroll gains, with consensus economists looking for 868,000 jobs to have come back in September.
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