Weekly Market Recap – April 23, 2021
In the Markets
There was another weekly decrease in Initial jobless claims with 547,000 first-time filings, down from the previous 586,000. The week’s list of other U.S. economic statistic reports was smaller than usual: existing home sales for March were 6.01 million vs. 6.24 million in February, while new home sales were 1.01 million, compared to 846,000 for the same period. The index of leading economic indicators rose 1.3% in March, after a 0.1% decline in February. In the U.S., a record 21% of new coronavirus cases in April, so far, are children. On Friday, the FDA announced that it would lift the temporary suspension imposed on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
U.S. Treasury yields have eased and stabilized after hitting one-year highs in late March. Stock market indices declined a bit during the week. The NASDAQ Composite moved 0.3% lower to 14,016.81 at Friday’s close. The S&P 500 eased to 4,180.17 (-0.1%), and the DJI slipped to 34,043.49 (-0.5%). CBOE’s VIX had its first upward weekly move in five weeks, advancing to 17.33 (+6.6%). In currency markets, the U.S. Dollar Index softened, decreasing 0.8% to reach 90.83 at the week’s end. Commodities, in general, are still increasing, as evidenced by the S&P GSCI. This diversified portfolio of futures closed at 494.10 (+1.1%), its highest end-of-week level since October of 2018.
Metals futures ranged from slightly lower to higher. Closing prices and percentage changes from the previous Friday ended as follows: gold at $1,777.80 (-0.1%), silver at $26.075 (-0.1%), platinum at $1,233.10 (+2.0%), palladium at $2,857.00 (+3.0%), copper at $4.3360 (+4.0%), and aluminum at $2,354.00 (+2.1%).
Crude oil contracts booked negative moves for the week, as NYMEX June WTI ended Friday’s session at $62.14 (-1.7%), and ICE Brent declined 1.0%, to settle at $66.11 per barrel. Refined products retreated, as well: May heating oil lost 1.2%, closing at $1.8735, while RBOB gasoline fell 2.2%, settling at $1.9957 per gallon. Unlike the petroleum sector, natural gas had another up-week (+1.9%) going out at $2.730 per mmBtu.
Agricultural products were the commodity group with the most noteworthy action. Grains took center stage as wheat and corn, in addition to soybeans, all skyrocketed, with a couple of limit-up moves during the week. Driven by the freezing conditions in the grain belt, hindering planting activity, and also influenced by buying from China, the most active futures moved as follows: wheat soared 8.9% to $7.10¼, corn leaped 12.0% to $6.55½, and soybeans closed at $15.39¾ (+7.4%) per bushel. The other agricultural products on the rise were coffee, getting up to 138.50 (+5.6%), sugar hitting 16.91⊄ per pound (+1.1%), cotton ending at 87.51⊄ (+4.5%), and lean hogs went out at 105.725 (+4.0%). Of the nine contracts we track in this sector, only two of them decreased: live cattle fell to 115.725 (-2.9%), and cocoa eased 0.6% to $2,450 per ton.
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