Stocks post best week since July after earnings, retail sales top estimates

Stocks rose on Friday to post a robust weekly advance, with stronger-than-expected earnings and economic data helping lift the S&P 500 for a third consecutive day. The blue-chip index closed out the week higher by about 1.8% in its best one-week increase since July.

A new report from the Commerce Department showed an unexpected rise in U.S. retail sales in September and helped further lift sentiment, with consumer spending holding up more strongly than expected even given the latest rise in prices and lingering virus-related impacts.

Shares of big bank stocks including Bank of America, Citi and Morgan Stanley ticked up during the pre-market session. The stocks had jumped a day earlier, after these banks posted much stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings results. Peer banking titan Goldman Sachs also reported much stronger-than-expected earnings results before the opening bell Friday morning, sending shares sharply higher.

This week’s early batch of stronger-than-anticipated quarterly results has helped assuage investors’ concerns over a sharp deceleration in corporate profits, especially as expenses mount for companies across industries in the face of higher input and labor costs.

Investors have at least temporarily looked through ongoing reports and company commentary around shipping challenges and heightened prices. Nw inflation data this week also showed price increases at both the consumer and producer levels held at historically high levels last month.

Still, other upbeat economic data helped to counterbalance these reports, with Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report showing new unemployment filings fell more-than-expected to a pandemic-era low last week.

We’ve had a lot of volatility recently, and I think markets are looking for any little glimpse or glimmer of good news, Jack Manley, JPMorgan Asset Management global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance Live. The earnings season … has been good so far, and if history suggests anything, it’s only going to get better from here.

Other strategists agreed that stocks may be set up to continue marching higher as earnings season continues, given the lowered expectations many investors maintained heading into the reporting season.

We’ve had a number of Wall Street strategists come out and call for a correction. If you look at things like the surprise indices, they’re all trending lower … earnings estimates for the third and fourth quarter have leveled off, Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio manager for Natixis Investment Managers, told Yahoo Finance Live. To me it feels like the market’s leaning bearish. And when we start to think about the buyer power that could come back in when everybody starts to flip positive — earnings might be that catalyst, we could certainly see that upside.