New US jobless claims drop to lowest level since March

Stocks were higher yesterday, as weekly data on US unemployment benefit claims showed that new jobless claims fell to 787,000 last week from 842,000 the week prior. Officials also revised downwards the number of people who filed a new jobless claim in the two weeks before that, with the final total for the week ending October 3 coming in at 767,000 – the lowest figure since March. An apparent stagnation in the recovery of the US labour market has been one fear weighing on investors in recent months, and next week’s figure will be watched closely for signs of a sustained positive trend.

In corporate news, biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences had its antiviral drug remdesivir approved as a treatment for Covid-19 by US regulators yesterday, sending its stock surging. Gilead climbed more than 7% in after-hours trading following the news.

Align Technology soars 35% after social media influencers drive sales

Eight of the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 were in the green yesterday, led by the energy and financial sectors which gained 4.2% and 1.9% respectively. Leading the S&P was Align Technology, which surged 35% after delivering Q3 earnings that far surpassed analyst expectations. At $734m, the company’s revenue came in at more than $200m beyond analysts’ predictions, driven in part by new social media influencers helping to increase sales of its Invisalign clear braces to teenagers.

Chipmaker Intel faced a tougher third-quarter earnings report after the market close, as while it met earnings expectations, the company’s data center business showed weakness. Investors reacted sharply in after-hours trading, sending Intel’s share price down more than 10%.

In other corporate news, Uber and Lyft both faced a mixed day, and will be stocks to watch when the market opens tomorrow. The companies both posted share price gains of around 4% during market hours, but late in the evening a ruling came through against the companies in their legal battle over classifying drivers as contractors rather than employees.

S&P 500: +0.5% Thursday, +6.9% YTD

Dow Jones Industrial Average: +0.5% Thursday, -0.6% YTD

Nasdaq Composite: +0.2% Thursday, +28.2% YTD

Airlines, banks lead a positive day for UK stocks

Both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 posted modest gains yesterday, as British Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new package of support for businesses hit by the latest pandemic restrictions.

The top performers in the FTSE 100 came from a mixed bag of sectors, but similar to the US major finance names enjoyed positive days. Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest, Legal & General Group, Barclays and more were all in the top 20 FTSE 100 performers yesterday. At the bottom of the index was defense company BAE Systems, which fell 4.9%.

In the FTSE 250, airlines helped lead the day, with Tui, easyJet, and Wizz Air up 6.1%, 6% and 4.5% respectively. At the bottom of the index was real estate investment company Shaftesbury, which fell 15.7%, followed by Moneysupermarket.com with a 9.9% loss and Cineworld with a 9.2% loss.

FTSE 100: +0.2% Thursday, -23.3% YTD

FTSE 250: +0.6% Thursday, -18.2% YTD

What to watch

American Express: Today, credit card and financial services firm American Express delivers its third-quarter earnings report. The company is dependent on consumer spending and credit card transaction volumes, which the pandemic has generated significant headwinds for. American Express stock is down more than 15% in 2020 so far, although it has rallied by close to 10% in the past month. The firm has had a mixed year of earnings reports, beating expectations in Q2 but coming in below par in Q1. Wall Street’s expectations for the company’s Q3 have improved over the past few months, with analysts predicting an earnings per share figure of $1.34. Currently, analysts lean towards a hold rating on the stock.

Illinois Tool Works: Manufacturing firm Illinois Tools has been running for more than a century, and employs tens of thousands of people worldwide. The company’s share price has gained 12.3% year-to-date, and is up 26% over the past 12 months. One of the firm’s attributes for investors is its long track record of steady dividend payments, with a yield that currently sits at 2.3%. Overall, in the S&P 500 the industrials sector has lagged the broader index year-to-date, but has outpaced it over the past three months. Illinois Tool Works reports its Q3 earnings today; currently, analysts favour a hold rating on the stock.

Crypto corner: Research agency says Bitcoin poised for “exponential run” after hitting $13,000

Bitcoin could be at the start of an “exponential bull run” if it matches previous cycles, according to research agency Nautilus Research.

The price has been in focus this week after climbing above $13,000, its highest level since late 2017, amid a slump in the value of the US dollar which has accelerated in Q3 and the start of Q4.

Nautilus Research, an independent research boutique that services institutional investors, said if Bitcoin’s previous trading patterns were mimicked once more, it could consolidate for some time and reach a new all-time high.

This morning it was once again flirting with $13,000, having retreated marginally to $12,826 overnight.

All data, figures & charts are valid as of 23/10/2020. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose

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