stocks

Stock Market Today: Cheerful Consumer Data Gives Stocks a Small Bump

Retail sales in September improved by more than expected and a consumer sentiment reading improved, providing the market with a tiny lift Friday.

A bevy of positive headlines didn't launch stocks to the moon, but they did at least manage to end losing streaks in a couple of the major indices.

On the COVID-19 vaccine front, Pfizer (PFE, +3.9%) unveiled a timetable in which it could apply for FDA emergency-use approval by late November. While that's slower than the Election Day timeline touted by President Donald Trump, it still would qualify as extremely rapid development of a successful vaccine.

Economic data provided some hope, too. U.S. retail sales rose 1.9% month-over-month, well above economists' estimates.

"Despite unemployment benefits expiring for millions of Americans, today's retail sales figure shows us there is still some gas in the tank for the consumer," says Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, though he added it's not all positive. "The overall level of retail sales is well above pre-pandemic levels, however, when you dig deeper into the underlying data, businesses that have been hit the hardest continue to struggle."

Also, a preliminary University of Michigan consumer sentiment reading edged higher, mostly on optimism about conditions improving in 2021.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average didn't gain much, but the 0.4% improvement to 28,606 was enough to snap a three-day losing streak.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 also snapped a three-day skid, albeit with a whisper-thin half-point gain to 3,483.
  • The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.4% lower to 11,671.
  • The Russell 2000 declined 0.3% to 1,633.

The Case for the Occasional Moonshot

Does it feel like your portfolio is in a rut? It's not just you.

Stocks are broadly up for 2020 and successfully broke out of bear-market territory in record speed, but the indices are effectively flat since the start of September, mired in political and medical uncertainty.

But remember: That doesn't mean all stocks are flat.

Most portfolios can do with a small allocation toward aggressive plays that shoot higher even when the indices are sluggish. Sports betting stocks, for instance, could be an intriguing play -- they face the risk of more COVID-related shutdowns, but if not, they could leverage record dollars being gambled across several states.

If you're more passionate about politics than sports, you could always invest in stocks that analysts believe will jump depending on who is elected president this November -- here, we look at 10 stocks that would succeed under Joe Biden, and 10 different picks for another four years of President Donald Trump.

And it's hard to beat small-cap technology for pure growth potential. Yes, we mentioned yesterday that Goldman is cooling on the sector in the short-term, but a group of smaller plays are well-positioned in trending technologies for several years' worth of outperformance. Here, we look at seven small-cap tech stocks that have powerful upside potential that's difficult to ignore.

Most Popular

2 Credit Card Gotchas to Watch Out For
credit cards

2 Credit Card Gotchas to Watch Out For

After an infuriating wake-up call with her own credit card company, one financial services consultant wants consumers to know something: It’s smart to…
October 20, 2020
Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans
taxes

Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans

With the economy in trouble, tax policy takes on added importance in the 2020 presidential election. So, let's take a look at what Joe Biden has said …
October 15, 2020
When Retirees Question More Retirement Income
annuities

When Retirees Question More Retirement Income

What would you say if I told you that you could safely get significantly more retirement income from your retirement savings? That’s what I call an In…
October 20, 2020

Recommended

Stock Market Today 10/21/20: Snap Soars, Netflix Nosedives as Stocks Sit and Wait
stocks

Stock Market Today 10/21/20: Snap Soars, Netflix Nosedives as Stocks Sit and Wait

Stocks mostly treaded water Wednesday as stimulus negotiations continued, but Snap (SNAP) and Netflix (NFLX) provided some fireworks.
October 21, 2020
Stock Market Today 10/20/20: Glimmer of Stimulus Hope Gives Stocks a Small Lift
stocks

Stock Market Today 10/20/20: Glimmer of Stimulus Hope Gives Stocks a Small Lift

Tuesday's rigid stimulus deadline seemingly blurred as House Democrats and the White House made progress toward a middle ground.
October 20, 2020
Stock Market Today 10/19/20: Investors Lose Their Nerve as Relief Deadline Nears
stocks

Stock Market Today 10/19/20: Investors Lose Their Nerve as Relief Deadline Nears

Retail sales in September improved by more than expected and a consumer sentiment reading improved, providing the market with a tiny lift Friday.
October 19, 2020
Kiplinger's Weekly Earnings Calendar
stocks

Kiplinger's Weekly Earnings Calendar

Check out our earnings calendar for the upcoming week, as well as our previews of the more noteworthy reports.
October 18, 2020