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Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The stock market roller coaster ride this week was real.

Why it matters: This year was on pace to notch a rare milestone: a full 12-months without a pullback of more than 5% in the S&P 500 — until this week helped tip it further out of the running.

  • Stocks have already recouped almost half of those losses.

Here's a snapshot ...

  • Stocks have alternated between gains and losses of at least 1% for much of the past week — the longest wild stretch since June 2020, according to Bloomberg.
  • As hints of a temporary debt ceiling truce trickled out on Wednesday, stocks staged the biggest midday comeback since February.
  • Strategists say shelved fears about a federal debt default powered gains on Thursday (though, of course, no one can say for sure why the stock market does what it does).

Flashback: September typically isn't a good month for the stock market (it wasn't this year either). Historically, October hasn't been much better.

  • "There's less risk-taking that happens at this time of year: People don't want to lose money, for whatever reason, at the end of the year," says Rick Rieder, BlackRock's chief investment officer of global fixed income.

Other than the calendar, there's a back-and-forth about how big of a deal the things on the latest worry list will be — like a prolonged spell of higher inflation.

What they're saying: "The number one question we get from clients is whether inflation is temporary or stays with us," Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer at Charles Schwab, tells Axios.

  • "People are more worried about it than they were a couple of weeks ago," says Aguilar. Not helping: supply chain snafus that may be getting worse and the commodity price surge of recent days.

Then there’s the imminent taper. The Federal Reserve isn’t pulling out of the game altogether, but it will ease up on the massive bond purchases that have helped buoy stocks. No one knows yet the pace at which the Fed will do it.

  • ”The Fed is going to take its foot off the accelerator a little, so instead of driving 125 miles an hour, they're going to be driving 100 miles an hour. That's still fast,” says Scott Wren, a global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

The big picture: The S&P 500 is nearly double its pandemic-era low.

  • And for every market-watcher who says risks abound, there’s another who says have no fear.

What's next: Earnings start to trickle out in earnest next week.

  • The number of companies telling Wall Street to pare back profit expectations has jumped compared to the prior quarter, according to FactSet.
  • Still, they don’t outnumber those that have said upcoming results will be even better than initially forecast.

This post has been updated to state that the S&P 500 is nearly double its pandemic low.

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2021 - Axios Denver

The National Western Stock Show is here to stay — with or without 2E

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, center, speaks at a 2014 press conference at the National Western Complex. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

What you see isn't always what you get when it comes to the 2021 political mailers touting Ballot Measure 2E.

Be smart: 2E is Mayor Michael Hancock's pitch to put $190 million in bonds toward a new "state-of-the-art" arena on the National Western Center campus and convert its 112-year-old former arena into a public market.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.