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The Heart of Earnings   October 20 - October 24
Fri, 24 Oct 04:13 PM EST/09:13 PM GMT
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Global markets quieted down this week, allowing participants to focus on corporate earnings and economic fundamentals. There was a glimmer of hope in Europe, where German and Eurozone flash October manufacturing PMI data saw very modest improvement, while officials worked hard to back away from a big battle over France's flawed 2015 budget and discussed a potential €300 billion public investment plan. In the US, inflation continues to stubbornly avoid showing, with September CPI reading just about flat. The preliminary Markit October manufacturing PMI data was a bit soft, in a reading that missed expectations and saw its lowest level since July. Earnings season hit full stride with corporate reports mostly leading stocks higher, though some high profile names disappointed. For the week, the DJIA gained 2.6%, the S&P500 added 4.1% and the Nasdaq rocketed 5.3%, marking the best gains of the year for the broader indices.

A wave of enthusiasm spread over financial markets on Tuesday on press reports that the ECB could start buying corporate bonds to complement its ABS purchase program. The reports led some participants to believe that a more fleshed-out QE program was under consideration. Two ECB members, Nowotny and Coene, poured cold water on the stories saying the MPC had held no discussions on corporate bond purchases.

All was quiet on the Ebola front this week until Thursday afternoon, when New York City reported its first confirmed case of the disease. Dr. Craig Spencer was placed in isolation at New York's Bellevue Hospital days after returning from a volunteer stint in Guinea treating Ebola victims. Spencer had been self-monitoring, but had also spent a fair amount out on the town before starting to feel fatigued and feverish. Ebola treatment developers and sanitary equipment manufacturers had traded lower this week before the announcement as no new US cases were announced and people in Texas came out of quarantine, and the bounce higher and Thursday and Friday was not very robust. ...
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