Running Hard and Getting Nowhere: The Ticker

a | A

By Paula Dwyer

Ever get the feeling of running in place but getting nowhere? You are: The S&P 500 index closed yesterday, Oct. 3, at 1099.23. Eerily, that's exactly the level of the index's closing three years ago, on Oct. 3, 2008.

You may recall that markets everywhere crashed shortly after that date -- the S&P 500 tumbled to 752.44 by Oct. 20, 2008, and the global economy, already in recession, came very close to a global depression.

Of course, history doesn't often repeat itself in lockstep. The index, for example, today shot up 4 percent to 1,123.95 in the final hour. Speculation that European officials are looking at ways of recapitalizing the region’s banks drove the late rally.

Keep in mind also that auto sales were up in September, second-quarter GDP was revised upward, manufacturing activity picked up steam last month, and construction spending rose, for the third uptick in four months.

The more important numbers, payrolls and the jobless rate, come Friday. If private-sector job creation is weak, stocks could sink further. The S&P 500 is already down 17 percent since this year's high of 1363.61 on April 29.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists is that payrolls grew by 50,000 in September, after no change in August, and that the jobless rate will stay at 9.1 percent.

(Paula Dwyer is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)

-0- Oct/04/2011 22:18 GMT