Weekly Market Recap – April 16, 2021
In the Markets
The federal budget for March showed a $660 billion deficit vs. $119 billion in February. In this fiscal year, which began October 1st, the U.S. has so far spent a record $3.4 trillion. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits plunged to its lowest level since the start of the coronavirus crisis; 576,000 initial jobless claims were filed, as opposed to the previous week’s 769,000. Other key economic statistics, compared with their prior level were as follows: consumer prices at +0.6% (vs. +0.4%), retail sales +9.8% (vs. -2.7%), industrial production +1.4% (vs. -0.6%), capacity utilization is 74.4% (vs. 73.4%), business inventories were +0.5% (vs. +0.4%), and housing starts were 1.74 million (vs. 1.46 million). President Biden announced his plan to end America’s longest war. He will withdraw the 3,500 remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Citing concerns about side effects, CDC and FDA recommended that the U.S. pause use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine.
The stock market benchmarks we track in our recap had strong performances, with two of the four hitting new record highs. They were the S&P 500 (+1.4%), which ended at 4,185.47 on Friday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, closing at 34,200.67 with a 1.2% rise. As for the other two, NASDAQ’s Composite added 1.1%, trading 14,052.34 at the close. The Russell 2000 went out at 181.56 (+1.0%) for the week. CBOE’s VIX settled at 16.25 (-2.6%), its lowest end-of-week close in fourteen months. The U.S. Dollar Index eased a bit (-0.7%) to 91.53 as its final Friday valuation. Commodity prices mostly strengthened, as measured by the S&P GSCI. The index ended the week at 488.72 (+3.7%).
Buying in metals persisted in most of the futures we monitor. Settlements and weekly changes were as follows: gold at $1,780.20 (+2.0%), silver at $26.105 (+3.1%), platinum at $1,208.70 (0.0%), palladium at $2,774.70 (+5.3%), copper at $4.1680 (+3.2%), and aluminum at $2,315.00 (+2.3%).
The week’s greatest percent changes in commodities were in the energy group. WTI crude oil on NYMEX shot up 6.4% to $63.13 per barrel. Likewise, ICE Brent ended Friday’s session at $66.77 (+6.1%). Refined products followed suit, with heating oil increasing 4.9% to $1.8957 per gallon, and gasoline rising back over two dollars again, going out at $2.0399 (+4.0%). As April is turning out to be one of the coldest in 20 years for most of the U.S., natural gas rallied 6.1% to $2.680 per mmBtu.
Among the nine agricultural products featured here, gainers outnumbered losers 7 to 2. Soybeans closed at $14.33¼ (+2.2%), wheat advanced 2.2%, ending the week at $6.52½, while corn settled at $5.85½ (+1.4%). Crop issues in Brazil contributed to coffee’s strength; the May contract rose to 129.15 (+1.5%). Cocoa prices moved up by 2.3%, ending at $2,408 per metric ton. Sugar futures spiked to 16.72¢ per pound (+8.2%). Cotton prices added 1.6%, as May’s final price for the week was 83.71¢. Livestock contracts traded lower, with live cattle declining to 119.175 (-2.8%), while lean hog prices took a 6.7% dive to close at 101.700, all but wiping out the previous week’s 7.0% jump.
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