STOCKS RISE: Here's what you need to know

Stocks closed out the week higher as the S&P 500 logged its third straight weekly gain, after some mixed economic data earlier on Friday.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,205.20, +63.45, (0.37%)
  • S&P 500: 2,031.98, +8.12, (0.40%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,882.23, +12.13, (0.25%)

And now, the top stories on Friday:

  1. The consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan came in better than expected, at 92.1. The preliminary report for October indicated that personal financial expectations rose to the highest level since 2007, as did consumers’ views on buying durable goods. The report added, “Perhaps the most important finding is that low inflation and continued job growth have enabled consumers to adapt to a slower and more variable rate of economic growth by varying the pace of their spending without losing confidence that the expansion will continue.”
  2. Industrial production declined 0.2% in September, as expected. The capacity utilization rate was 77.5%, slightly higher than the forecast for 77.3%. The only major category that gained was consumer goods, as manufacturers continued to grapple with the strong dollar, slow global demand, and low capex from the oil sector.
  3. The number of job openings fell more than expected in August, to 5.37 million from 5.75 million in July. The number of hires totaled 5.1 million, while the quits rate was 1.9% for a fifth month in a row. Reported on a significant lag, the Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey is a gauge of how much slack remains in the labour market.
  4. The US oil rig count fell for a seventh straight period this week, by 10 to 595 according to driller Baker Hughes. It’s the lowest count since the week of July 23, 2010. The combined count also fell, by 8 to 787, the lowest since May 3, 2002.
  5. Bloomberg reported that Russian hackers broke into Dow Jones servers and stole information to trade on. About a week ago, Dow Jones said hackers had sought the payment information of about 3,500 customers. The FBI, the secret service, and the SEC are reportedly investigating the matter.
  6. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz suffered a heart attack. The company said it had been informed that the recently appointed chief executive was in hospital, while the Wall Street Journal reported that he was near Chicago. Munoz joined the airline after former CEO Jeff Misek resigned amid a federal corruption investigation.
  7. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tweeted that he owned 4% of Twitter. It’s unclear how much he was paid of the now $US20 billion-social network, but 4% totals $US800 million. Twitter’s stock was under pressure recently amid uncertainty about the company’s top leadership and the growth of active users. Twitter shares rallied as much as 5% in trading.
  8. Donald Trump has thoughts on Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. In a Bloomberg TV interview this morning, the republican presidential frontrunner said Yellen was doing President Obama a political favour by keeping interest rates ultra-low.”They are trying to put the recession, and it could be a beauty, into the next administration, and that’s not fair,” Trump said, admitting that he benefits from low rates as a real-estate magnate.

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