Election debate kicks off amid gains for S&P

WALL Street will open October with a busy week, highlighted by low expectations for global manufacturing data and the US jobs report. Any positive surprises may help lift the market.

The S&P 500 finished its third positive quarter in the last four on Friday, despite suffering its largest weekly percentage decline since June. For the past three months, the S&P 500 gained 5.9 per cent – its best third quarter since 2010. In contrast, the index was down 1.3 per cent for the week.

A snapshot of US manufacturing activity will be provided today when the Institute for Supply Management releases its September index. The September reading is expected to show another month of contraction, but at a slightly slower pace than in August. On Wednesday, the ISM will release its services-sector Purchasing Managers’ Index, which could show a slight deceleration in the pace of growth in the non-manufacturing sector.

Non-farm payrolls for September, due on Friday, are forecasted to gain 115,000, while the unemployment rate is expected to tick up 0.1 per cent from August to 8.2 per cent in September.

The data will come on the heels of the first of three presidential debates, scheduled for Wednesday night. With just one month to go before the election, Wall Street will watch the economic data more closely than usual. In a year when the incumbent is campaigning for a second term, economic numbers tend to become more positive as election day approaches.