Despite COVID-19 Uncertainty, Good News for Earnings and GDP

On Oct. 30, the S&P 500 was within 2% of its 2019 closing level, while the technology-focused NASDAQ grew more than 20% over the same period.

The market through October continued to make the case for a steady approach to investing, especially as this is a historically volatile time – the months surrounding a U.S. presidential election – amid a historic, complicated year.

In general, the outlook remains optimistic, even as the market has experienced mixed news dominated by the pandemic and the responses to it.

Improving economic activity and promising corporate earnings helped the S&P 500 start to climb out of its September gloom. However, those gains were met with increasingly concerning reports of a third wave of COVID-19 outbreaks across the U.S., with a record rate of new cases reported, and a resurgence of the virus in Europe.

As a result, the S&P 500 has closed lower for the second consecutive month. But, “despite the decline in equity prices, the credit market has shown little sign of stress,” Chief Investment Officer Larry Adam said, a sign of underlying confidence.

Fiscal stimulus remained a hope, but as the month continued, investors’ expectations seemed to cool, adding to government-related uncertainty as the election drew closer.

If President Donald Trump is reelected, investors could see a package before the December 11 government funding expiration date, Washington Policy Analyst Ed Mills said. A Democratic sweep would likely result in a larger package, he added, but it may come in stages through the early part of 2021. The biggest market risk is likely a prolonged, uncertain or contested election.

Though October ended with broad reductions across the mainstream market indices, it’s important to remember that even with the uncertainty and volatility of the year, investors have managed to hold the line, showing an optimistic, if cautious, view of the future. Here are the numbers:


12/31/19 Close

10/30/20 Close

Year to Date

% Gain/Loss
Year to Date











S&P 500










Russell 2000





Bloomberg Barclays
U.S. Aggregate Bond Index





Performance reflects price returns as of market close on Oct. 30, 2020. MSCI EAFE and Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond values represent Oct. 29 closing price.

Here’s a brief look at some other points of interest across the economy and the world: