U.S. equity markets rallied throughout the day and held those gains as investors saw signs of optimism in the stimulus impasse in Washington and better-than-expected news on the labor market. Financial stocks led the gains as they usually do when there are signs of economic progress. In addition, U.S. Treasury bond yields keep climbing, and banks love rising rates.

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The U.S. Department of Justice continues to flash its badge, wringing a $2.9 billion settlement out of Goldman Sachs for its part in the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia (more below). It's been a busy week for the department.

Job loss in America: Seasonally adjusted initial claims

The U.S. labor market finally showed a bit of relief as 787,000 Americans filed for initial unemployment claims last week, a decrease of 55,000 from the previous week and the first time weekly claims have been below 800,000 since March. That is still a lot of people losing their jobs this late into the pandemic, but any decrease is more than welcome.

Map of US housing market

Demand v. Supply in U.S. Housing 

The U.S. housing market is red hot — especially in the higher-priced zip codes. Existing-home sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in September, up nearly 21% compared to a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All major regions of the U.S. saw month-over-month and annual gains in September. The Northeast experienced the largest increase in home sales.

Total existing-home sales — which include completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops — increased 9.4% from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million in September. Ultra-low interest rates and a migration of families out of some metro areas is behind the surge.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $311,800 — a 14.8% increase from a year ago ($271,500). Home prices in every region were up last month, NAR reports, but there is a big supply shortage in several major markets. Check out the NAR's map above to see where the imbalance is greatest, like in Miami, Southern California, and some zip codes in New York.