- The Federal Reserve will start tapering its monthly asset purchases by $15 billion per month
- The ISM Services index rose to a record 66.7 in October
- The U.S. added 531,000 jobs in October
Top Three Market Headlines
Fed Confirms Tapering Plan: The Federal Reserve last week approved a plan to scale back its quantitative easing, or bond buying, measures adopted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The central bank pledged to reduce its $120 billion of monthly purchases by $15 billion per month starting in November, thereby setting a pace that would end the stimulus entirely by June 2022. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stated that officials had moved up the end-date for the bond-buying program to put themselves in a position to raise interest rates if necessary, though he reiterated that policy makers believe it is not yet time to increase rates as there is still progress to be made from an employment standpoint.
Service Sector Booms; Manufacturing Grows Steadily: U.S. economic activity continued to expand in October, according to surveys of business executives released last week by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The services sector showed particular strength, as the ISM Services index jumped from 61.9 in September to 66.7 in October, the highest reading since data collection for the index began in 1997. The ISM Manufacturing index, meanwhile, recorded 60.8 in October, down modestly from 61.1 the prior month but still in expansion territory (i.e., a reading above 50). This was the seventeenth straight month both indices indicated expansion.
Jobs Report Beats Expectations: The Labor Department reported last week that U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by 531,000 in October, beating analysts' estimates of 450,000. The number of job additions was the highest in three months, even as previously announced gains for September and August were revised upward. The leisure and hospitality industry added the most jobs in October, followed by professional and business services, while employment in public education declined the most. For the month, the jobless rate fell to 4.6% from 4.8% in September, while average hourly earnings increased by 4.9% from the prior year.