Senate races next week could hold the key to whether the stock market glides through the year-end in a typical post-midterm election rally or gets hit with a fresh bout of volatility. "If we have a really uncertain situation, where the Senate is divided and candidates are threatening recounts, that's really not good," said Robbert van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge USA LLC in New York. Such an outcome, while considered unlikely, nevertheless rekindles uncomfortable memories for some of the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush's victory over Al Gore was not confirmed for more than a month after Election Day.
China's factory activity unexpectedly fell to a five-month low in October as firms fought slowing orders and rising costs in the cooling economy, reinforcing views that the country's growth outlook is hazy at best. The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) eased to 50.8 in October from September's 51.1, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Saturday, but above the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. Underscoring the challenges facing the world's second-largest economy, the PMI showed foreign and domestic demand slipped to five- and six-month lows, respectively, with overseas orders shrinking slightly on a monthly basis. "There remains downward pressure on the economy, and monetary policy will remain easy," economists at China International Capital Corp said in a note to clients after the data.
"The fundamentals ... remain very solid," said Gus Faucher, a senior economist at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh. The Commerce Department said on Friday that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S.