Stocks Gain on First Day of October
U.S. stocks made modest gains last Friday, the first day of October, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 42 points (0.4 percent), after mostly positive economic news. The S&P 500 Index gained 5.0 points, or 0.44 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index increased by 2.1 points, or 0.09 percent.
A weaker U.S. dollar propelled commodities higher, including oil futures, which was as high as $81 per barrel. The U.S. Department of Commerce said last Friday that personal income rose 0.5 percent in August while personal spending was up 0.4 percent—both are positive for small businesses and the retail sector. The momentum came after the third quarter of 2010 saw the Dow jump more than 10 percent, one of the best quarters on record. Last Friday also marked the first day of trading for the new company created by the merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines.
Kansas Firm Led to May 6 ‘Flash Crash’
A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report last week revealed that a computer-triggered trade by an Overland Park, Kan.-based investment firm caused the May 6 ‘flash crash.’ On the afternoon of May 6, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped almost 1,000 points in a 30-minute span of time, causing a brief market panic that federal regulators later investigated. Waddell & Reed, the investment manager, acknowledged that it placed a $4.1 billion sell order on futures indices on May 6, which is believed to have triggered the mass market selloff. The trade was triggered by a computer algorithm, and lasted about 20 minutes in the afternoon. "Our portfolio managers and the funds acted in a manner consistent with the interests of their fund shareholders," Waddell said in a statement. Following the incident, the SEC and major U.S. stock exchanges have been piloting a “circuit breaker” program that would halt trading of securities experiencing unusual price swings.
Bank of America to Delay Foreclosures
Bank of America Corp. became the latest bank to delay foreclosure proceedings, the company announced, as it needs more time to investigate misfiling of foreclosure documents. The action affects 23 states in the United States. According to reports, Bank of America notified courts last Friday to hold foreclosure affidavits, which have been submitted for judgment but not decided. Bank of America is the third major U.S. bank to halt some foreclosure proceedings, following similar measures by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial. The issue stems from some affidavits, which were not properly reviewed or signed in the presence of a notary. Analysts estimate that hundreds of thousands of documents could be held for review.