The S&P 500 delivered a modest increase in the third quarter, helping stocks hold on to their biggest year-to-date gains in more than two decades. The simultaneous rise in safe assets like Treasuries reflects the fact that the most prominent economic narratives today are not optimistic. If you add the bleak surveys of business confidence worldwide, you may decide it’s time to batten down the hatches in preparation for a downturn. But you can't predict the future, and neither can anyone else.
Meanwhile, in the battle to capture customers, Charles Schwab shook the brokerage industry last week when it said it will cut commissions to zero. Schwab’s move has since been matched by TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and others. We’ll look at benefits and potential concerns of this latest step after a review of Q3 market results.