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Stock markets tick higher but economic outlook still ominous

Martin Young

U.S. stock markets ticked higher on Thursday following a mid-week slump that threatened new monthly lows. Tech stocks made modest gains though the overall economic outlook is still bleak.

Major indices in the United Stated made minor gains towards the end of the week though markets are still at their lowest levels since July.  S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow futures rose late on Thursday, with the S&P 500 managing a 0.3% climb, the Nasdaq Composite advancing 0.4%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average just 0.2%.

Chart – finviz.com

Stock markets still correcting

A minor rebound for tech stocks was the catalyst for the move which reversed a heave slump the previous day. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon advanced around a percent each while Facebook remained flat. Stock markets are still correcting however with the S&P 500 down 10% since the beginning of the month and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has slid a similar amount.

Economic woes continue to hamper recovery in the U.S. and unemployment claims were again higher than analyst predictions at 870,000 for the week ending Sept. 19. Gold investor Peter Schiff commented on the absurdity of calling almost a million people out of work for the week ‘good news’.

The Federal Reserve’s inability to effectively manage monetary policy coupled with the approaching political storm and election is taking its toll on investor confidence.

Stock markets in Asia had a little bounce on Friday following their U.S. counterparts. The Shanghai Composite was little changed but Japan’s Toppix made 0.5% while South Korea’s Kospi index gained a similar amount. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.3% according to Bloomberg.

Forex update

In the world of forex, the greenback made minor gains though the wider macroeconomic uncertainty has hampered progress. On the flip side, fear can often fuel a flock to the global reserve currency which appears to be reversing its two bearish months of July and August.

Cable took a dip earlier in the week but has remained sideways for the majority of it with the pair falling to 1.275 by Friday. An emergency jobs scheme announced by the U.K. government failed to bolster Sterling.

Chart – xe.com

The Euro also weakened against the dollar this week falling 1.7% to 1.166 while in Japan the Yen also slid slightly to 105.4. The offshore Yuan was at 6.8193 per dollar, a slight increase of 0.1%.

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