Last week was like an overstuffed suitcase that busts open on the baggage carousel. A lot was unpacked in a surprising and disorderly fashion.
There was some positive news for investors who prioritize fundamentals. Third quarter’s earnings season – the period of time when companies let investors know how they performed during the previous quarter – got off to a strong start.
Fifteen percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have reported so far and 84 percent had earnings that beat analysts’ expectations. FactSet said better than expected earnings from companies in the Healthcare and Financials sectors balanced the weaker performance of companies in the Energy sector.
There was some negative economic news, too.
In the United States, retail sales declined in September. It was the first monthly decline since February, reported MarketWatch, and analysts had expected an increase.
In China, gross domestic product growth was 6 percent year-over-year, the slowest growth rate since the 1990s, reported Reuters.
On the geopolitical front, The Wall Street Journal reported U.S. and European investors were cheered by news that Britain and the European Union (EU) had reached an agreement under which Britain could amicably exit the EU. That optimism was dashed on Saturday when Parliament withheld approval of the deal until all supporting legislation has been passed, reported The Washington Post.
The world was also rocked by Turkey’s invasion of Syria.
At the end of the week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite had held onto gains while the Dow Jones Industrials finished lower.
IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. During the past few weeks, Nobel Prize winners have been announced as well as Ig Nobel Prize winners. The Igs are awarded for improbable research that makes people laugh and then think. A lucky few have won both Ig Nobel and Nobel prizes.
The honorees at the Ig Nobel ceremony received their awards from “a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, in Harvard’s historic and largest theater.” This year’s winners included:
• Medicine: Cancer researcher Silvano Gallus and associates researched and wrote the paper, Does Pizza Protect Against Cancer? They received the Ig Nobel for “collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.”
• Biology: A group of researchers from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore were recognized for “discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches.”
• Engineering: Iman Farahbakhsh of Iran was recognized for patenting an infant diaper changer and washer. The patent explained, “…once the infant is placed inside the apparatus, various steps may in some cases be carried out automatically without needing the operator to touch the infant or interact manually with the diaper or infant during the changing process…”
• Economics: Father and son, Timothy and Andreas Voss, and their associates received an Ig Nobel for “testing which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.”
Other winners explored the pleasure of scratching an itch (Peace Prize), the volume of saliva produced daily by a five-year-old child (Chemistry Prize), and whether holding a pen in your mouth increases happiness (Psychology Prize).
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” --Charles Dickens, English author
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Sources:https://insight.factset.com/sp-500-earnings-season-update-october-18-2019 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-21-19_FactSet-S_and_P_500_Earnings_Season_Update_October_18_2019-Footnote_1.pdf)https://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-retail-sales-snap-6-month-winning-streak-in-september-as-receipts-fall-03-2019-10-16https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-economy-gdp/chinas-gdp-growth-grinds-to-near-30-year-low-as-tariffs-hit-production-idUSKBN1WX05Ahttps://www.wsj.com/articles/pound-dips-as-brexit-talks-hit-a-roadblock-11571303767 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-21-19_WSJ-Stocks_Climb_on_Strong_Earnings_Brexit_Deal-Footnote_4.pdf)https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-faces-historic-brexit-vote-in-parliament/2019/10/19/dba7cc70-f1a8-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.htmlhttps://www.barrons.com/articles/dow-jones-industrial-average-ends-week-lower-as-boeing-ibm-bruise-benchmark-51571443912?mod=hp_DAY_4 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-21-19_Barrons-The_Dow_Found_a_Way_to_Waste_a_Perfectly_Good_Week-Footnote_6.pdf)https://www.improbable.com/whatis/https://www.improbable.com/ig-about/2019-ceremony/https://www.improbable.com/ig-about/winners/#ig2019https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ijc.11382https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23005-1https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/e1/ed/d0/6cb8dd7a5c6a96/US20170143168A1.pdf (In the Summary 0006)https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/laughter