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U.S. equity markets closed mixed Thursday, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average. 

Technology and consumer discretionary names led, while financials and real estate underperformed. 

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield fell notably, down to 1.52 percent, supporting growth sectors broadly and putting pressure on areas like banks and financial services. 

The price of crude oil was down $1.92 to $78.94 per barrel, and the spot price of gold was up $30.90 to $1,794.80. 

This week three central banks globally – the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of England – all provided somewhat more dovish commentary than markets expected, perhaps driving some of the weakness in yields. Nonetheless, both the S&P and Nasdaq have closed at record highs yet again. 

The Fed delivered its message following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting that concluded Wednesday.

As expected, the Fed announced the start of its bond-tapering program, tapering the purchase of monthly assets by $15 billion in November and December.

It expects to continue to taper at this pace through mid-2022, barring any substantial changes in economic conditions. 

What perhaps came as a bit of a surprise to markets was that the Fed continues to view factors driving inflation as “expected to be transitory.”

Chair Jerome Powell noted in his commentary that the Fed will remain deliberate and patient and will be watching the recovery in the labor market as much as the path of inflation. 

Overall, Edward Jones analysts believe the Fed will continue to support the ongoing recovery in the U.S. economy and likely remains on track for one rate hike in 2022. 

Meanwhile, third-quarter earnings reports roll on and, overall, remain a pleasant surprise to the upside. 

With about 84 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, third-quarter earnings growth is up a robust 39 percent year-over-year, well ahead of the expectation for 28 percent growth predicted at the end of September. 

This upward revision in earnings has broadly supported the positive market tone. Of course, investors are listening carefully for signals around supply-chain and cost pressures, which many companies are indicating could last through mid-2022. 

On the other hand, consumer demand and corporate financial positions remain healthy, driving the stronger earnings growth. 

Overall, analysts believe earnings growth this year remains strongly above average – nearly 45 percent year-over-year – but should moderate next year, in the 7-10 percent range, with the possibility of upside if some delayed demand is realized.