Summer slowing was apparent in stock markets last week. Lighter transactional activity usually is a part of the later summer weeks, as families fill those weeks with vacations. This August is no different. In that week of sometimes slower activity, our Quad-City Times Key 15 gave up 13.29 to 2,123.56 (1).

Significant in that retreat was a setback in the shares of FedEx, which fell 4.37 to 204.90 and in shares of Deere, which finished 2.98 lower at 126.72 (1).

Economic reports told of continuing growth. Notably, the Small Business Optimism Index climbed 1.6 in July to a 105.2 reading. This index from the National Federation of Independent Business, out Tuesday, is really a look at that part of the economy which traditionally generates the most new jobs. Keeping a finger on the pulse of those smaller businesses, this index climbed mostly because of significant gains in hiring activity, according to the federation. And the 105.2 reading, for our perspective, is just short of the January 2017 reading, itself a 12-year high. The federation also talked of significant consumer demand for products and services giving a lift to the index.

The federation noted that respondents felt better about the economy because customers are feeling better about it.

Closer to home, the Quad-City Area Realtor Association showed no growth in July home sale closings in its Tuesday release. There were 507 this July, compared with 509 last year. Still, the dollar volume involved in those transactions was up a solid 4.9 percent from $83.6 million one year ago to $87.8 million.

The growth trend was also apparent in pending sales (contracts already signed but not legally closed) of 736 single family homes, sizably more than closed in July.

Tyson Foods, with beef processing in Joslin, Illinois, and pork processing in Columbus Junction, Iowa, surprised investors Monday morning with third fiscal quarter profits that beat analysts’ consensus estimates. Earnings climbed from $1.21 per share one year ago to $1.28. Sales rose 4.8 percent to $98.5 billion for the mammoth meat processor.

CEO Tom Hayes explained in the release, “The beef and pork segments were very strong performers in the third quarter, and continued generating cash to fuel investments in our value-added Chicken and Prepared Foods businesses.” Hayes talked about sales volume growth and about a strong start to grilling season along with newly innovated meat and prepared food products. Tyson shares were up $3.60 on Monday. For the week, Tyson stock was up 2.24 to 65.54 (1).

After markets closed on Tuesday, Eldorado Resorts reported. The owner of Bettendorf’s Isle of Capri gaming resort and others acquired Isle on May 1. And accounting periods needed to be adjusted to be comparable, making presentation difficult for the company and investors alike. Results came in with a $.79 per share loss, sizably short of analysts’ consensus estimate of $.20 profit.

We learned from the report and from the company’s conference call that both Waterloo and Bettendorf gaming operations and Missouri operations, all legacy Isle of Capri properties are in the company’s new Midwest region. Importantly, Eldorado noted that integration of the Isle properties into Eldorado had already yielded $30 million of the expected $35 million in annual synergies from combining management teams. In the end, investors were more positive, sending shares higher on Wednesday. For the week, Eldorado shares gained 3.10 to 23.40 (1).

A new week brings Tuesday’s look at retail sales comparison from the Commerce Department, as well as a host of retailing chains reporting quarterly results. We should expect a focus on retailing. But late summers can remain slow late summers for investors anyway.

James Victor is senior vice president-wealth management and financial adviser with Morgan Stanley, Davenport.

The Key 15 reflects stocks of local interest. It is not a product and cannot be purchased as one. Information contained herein has been obtained by the writer from sources believed to be reliable, but he does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. (1) Source: NYSE

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