Ongoing concerns of COVID-19 and presidential election loom

After falling sharply between February and May with the rapid onset of the coronavirus pandemic, investor optimism showed little improvement in August despite the market rally.

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The Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index registered 18 in the third quarter survey, conducted Aug. 10 – 16 among U.S. adults with $10,000 or more invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds. This is up from an index score of 4 in the second quarter, following a sharp drop from the 20-year high of 138 in the first quarter.

The economy continues to weigh on investors’ outlook, with more saying they are pessimistic (47%) about economic growth over the next 12 months than optimistic (40%). Investors’ evaluation of current economic conditions is also grim. About three-quarters describe current conditions as “shaky” (49%) or

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Jonathan Weiss/Dreamstime

Two big-box retailers enter. One retailer leaves.

Target (ticker: TGT) and
Walmart
(WMT)—in one of the quirks of the earnings season that sees retailers release their results at the very end of the reporting schedule—both report this coming week, Walmart on Tuesday, Target on Wednesday.

It’s not quite Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but the two competitors are watched for signs of how well old-retail can compete against the likes of
Amazon.com
(AMZN) in the age of Covid-19—and against each other.

Both retailers were early beneficiaries of the shutdown because they didn’t have to, well, shut down. Their recent investments in online efforts were also viewed as advantages because they allowed the companies to ship direct, or let customers come in for curbside pickup.

Nevertheless, the past three months have been mediocre. Target stock has gained just 13% during the period, while Walmart stock is up

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