The S&P 500 index rose 1.5% last week in a rally that sent the market benchmark above the 4,500 level for the first time as investors were relieved by comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that they interpreted as a sign the central bank isn't rushing to begin tapering its bond buying stimulus program. The S&P is now up 2.6% for the month of August and up over 20% year-to-date. Along the way, the S&P has pulled back three times over 3.5% (Y-charts). As we wrote in our “Sell in May” commentary, we are historically in the heart of the more volatile “season” of the market prior to October through January historically having higher average returns.
This week, as the month of August wraps up, attention will be on employment data, including private sector data from ADP on Wednesday, the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims on Thursday and the monthly nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate to be reported Friday by the Labor Department. Of interest will also be July pending home sales and consumer sentiment reports (Y-charts). Also, headed into the traditional end-of-summer holiday weekend, history has shown that lighter trading volumes sometimes tend to amplify up and down movements as many are wrapping up the final days of summer vacation.
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