Stimulus speculation aids S&P
U.S. equities are on track for the best monthly performance in four years as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index capped a third weekly advance on speculation that central bank stimulus will continue to underpin equity gains. The S&P 500 climbed 0.9 percent in the five days, extending its rally in October to 5.9 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.8 percent to 17,215.97 in the week, its highest level since Aug. 19. Equities are again on the upswing after two months of declines as weaker-than-estimated economic reports from Asia to Europe boosted speculation central banks will maintain stimulus measures. Data in the U.S. have been mixed; manufacturing has disappointed while jobs and consumer confidence looked solid. Financial markets were jolted Wednesday after Wal-Mart predicted a drop in annual profit, but banks lifted markets the following day on good results from Citigroup. On Friday, General Electric Co. jumped to a seven-year high on gains in the aviation and transportation units. The U.S. Treasury plans to sell $26 billion in three-month bills and $26 billion in six-month bills on Oct. 19. They yielded 0.01 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, in when-issued trading. The government will also sell four-week bills on Oct. 20 and $7 billion in 30-year inflation-linked bonds on Oct. 22.