Weekly Market Recap – April 1, 2021
In the Markets
Initial jobless claims came in at 719,000 compared with 658,000 the previous week; yet, the monthly non-farm payrolls tally showed an improvement with 675,000 in March vs. 379,000 for February. The overall unemployment rate is now 6.0% vs. 6.2% a month ago. The consumer confidence index gained from the last reported level, leaping from 90.4 to 109.7 in a month’s time. Construction spending dipped from +1.2% in February to -0.8% in March. Some analysts attributed the drop to severe weather impacting construction projects. According to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, January’s home price level was an 11.2% increase (on a year-over-year basis), compared with the 10.4% February number. This was the eighth consecutive month of rising home prices, the highest rise in 15 years (+14.5% in September 2005). On Thursday, President Biden revealed details of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The U.S. coronavirus vaccination rate is now surpassing three million doses per day.
With the 2021 first-quarter ending on Wednesday, and Easter weekend shortening the week to a Thursday close, the stock indices we report all moved higher. Only the DJIA and the S&P 500 made record highs. For the week, the DJIA rose 0.2% to 33,153.21 (+7.8% Q1). The S&P 500 increased 1.1% to 4,019.87 (+5.8% Q1). The NASDAQ Composite gained 2.6% to 13,480.11 (+2.8% Q1), and the Russell 2000 added 1.5% to 180.62 (+12.6% Q1). CBOE’s VIX settled at 17.33 (-8.1%). The U.S. Dollar Index ended the week at 92.89 (+0.2%), and the GSCI was unchanged (0.0%) at 474.02 on Thursday. For their first quarter improvements, the Dollar Index strengthened 3.6%, while the GSCI soared 14.2%.
Five of the six metal futures we focus on in our recap were weaker. End-of-week closing prices were as follows: gold at $1,728.40 (-0.4%), silver at $24.948 (-0.7%), platinum at $1,208.60 (+2.3%), palladium at $2,655.80 (-0.8%), copper at $3.9904 (-1.9%) and aluminum at $2,213.00 (-3.7%).
In the energy futures contracts, the charts show mixed, sideways moves in the petroleum segment. NYMEX WTI added 0.8% to $61.45 per barrel. Likewise, Brent crude increased 0.7%, ending at $64.86 on Thursday. U.S. refined products went a bit lower: heating oil lost 2.1%, closing the week at $1.7713, and RBOB gasoline eased 0.7% to $1.9533 per gallon. Natural gas continued to inch higher, firming by 0.8%, taking the May futures to $2.639 per mmBtu.
Directional movement in the agriculture markets gave our list of nine products an overall score of three higher vs. six lower. The gainers were: Soybeans at $14.02 per bushel (+0.1%), corn 1.3% higher closing at $5.59¾, and lean hogs went out at 101.775 (+1.0%). The contracts that lost value were: coffee, with it’s 5.4% drop to 121.60, sugar at 14.71¢ (-3.2%), cocoa at $2,392 (-2.7%), cotton at 77.95¢ per pound (-3.0%), live cattle at 120.025 (-0.1%), and wheat slipped 0.4% for the week, settling at $6.11 per bushel.
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