Monday for investors was about remembrance and relief, which became the catalysts to renewed buying of stocks, sending markets higher that day. And, Monday became a prime contributor to a full-week gain for our Quad-City Times Key 15, up 45.98 to close at 2,162.82 (1).
Most helping our area business barometer were 3M which climbed 7.64 to 213.34 and shares of FedEx advancing 4.29 to 214.80 (1).
Most weighing on the index were the stocks of Exelon falling .54 to 37.62 and Kraft Heinz shares, down .29 to 81.43 (1).
Remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, and the nearly 3,000 Americans murdered by terrorists flying hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and other attempted targets surely led to tears. Investors paused for a minute of silence before markets opened on Monday.
Relief came early Monday on news that Hurricane Irma’s wrath in Florida resulted in less damage than earlier feared, encouraging investors to expect fewer interruptions of business. Still, with the full state of Florida being hit, extensive damage, injuries and shortages of food and fuel occupied investor inputs for every hour of the week.
Every industry is touched by hurricane-related needs and adjustments, still recent economic reports remained valid road signs on the route of economic growth. Among the most interesting, the National Federation of Independent Business on Wednesday released it small business optimism index. The reading remains impressively high, rising from 105.2 in July to 105.3 in August. For perspective, this index zoomed from readings below 95 in last October to these higher levels and has persistently remained here. Commentary noted, “The lofty reading keeps intact a string of historically high performances extending back to last November.” The reading, the federation said, is in the top 3 percent of all historical monthly readings. And since small businesses create so many new jobs, investors see the report as an important leading indicator: greater confidence can contribute to greater hiring.
Here in the immediate area, our Quad-City Area Realtor Association says that August home sale closings remained relatively flat compared with one year ago, and for a second month at that. August closings at 561 homes were just short of last year’s 565. The recent months have softened the full year rate of increase. Still, the association reports eight months of 2017 brought a total of 3,950 closings, up a moderate but healthy 3.3 percent from the 3,823 in the same first months of 2017.
Nothing seems amiss in the flattening of growth. Home mortgage rates remain near historic lows. And the association says another 681 homes sales contracts are signed and yet await closing, a testimonial to the continued interest of buyers.
In fact, low interest rates continue to motivate more than homebuyers. Corporate America is benefitting. And Eldorado Resorts, the recent buyer of Bettendorf’s Isle of Capri gaming operations, took advantage of today’s rates, announcing on Monday the sale of $500 million of corporate notes. The eight-year notes, paying a stated 6 percent on $1,000-par certificates, were sold at a premium to clients, a price of $1,055 per note. Higher demand allowed Eldorado to sell more than the originally hoped $350 million, all helping with its plan to pay off all the outstanding borrowing done under a “revolving credit facility” and some term loans. With the refinancing in place, Eldorado Resorts shares were up .75 last week to 24.80 (1).
A new week promises a focus on housing. Was the U.S. experiencing the same pause in growth seen here? August sales should be watched closely in the Wednesday report from the National Association of Realtors. If we need another perspective on this, Tuesday’s look at housing starts will help.