August 21, 2020

Bill Hastie |

The U.S. equity market drifted higher yesterday with the tech-heavy NASDAQ again outperforming the rest.  The Dow and S&P 500 turned positive mid-day, and ended by gaining 46.83 and 10.66 points, or 0.17% and 0.32%, respectively.  The NASDAQ began in the “green” almost from the opening bell and climbed all day, finishing up118.49 points, or 1.06%, which was its 35th record high for the year.

Two earnings reports yesterday caught the attention of Wall Street.  Heavy equipment maker, Deere, reported quarterly earnings of $2.57 per share, well above analysts’ estimate of $1.26 a share.  Revenue was also reported to be above Wall Street forecasts and the company raised its full-year outlook.

Athletic apparel retailer, Foot Locker, reported it had earned $.71 per share for the second quarter, beating industry estimates of $.57 a share.  Revenue also came in higher than estimated, and the company reinstated its quarterly dividend program.

While these are only two stocks, they represent two vital economic sectors, manufacturing and retail, both generating outstanding results amidst the most recent social restrictions.  Wall Street pays close attention to the financial performance of key sectors of the economy as leading indicators of potential future economic performance.

Within the first 30 minutes of trading this morning all three U.S. stock indices have turned positive.  The Russell 2000, an index of small capitalization stocks, has struggled in recent weeks and is slightly negative again in early trading.  Gold, which recently has breached the $2,000/ounce level for the first time, continues to be volatile and remains well below the $2,000 mark.