Weekly Market Recap – June 18, 2021
The week had a number of economic reports. An unexpected statistic was the initial jobless claim tally, which had its first uptick in eight weeks: 412,000 claims compared with the previous 375,000. May retail sales declined 1.3% (vs. +0.9% in April), industrial production was +0.8% (vs. +0.1%), capacity utilization is at 75.2% (vs. 74.6%), business inventories were down 0.2% (vs. +0.2%), producer prices were up 0.8% (vs. the prior month’s 0.1% increase), May housing starts were 1.57 million (vs. 1.52 million in April), and the May index of leading economic indicators rose 1.3%, equaling the 1.3% rise in April.
The Federal Reserve’s FOMC statement indicated that the central bank’s interest rate increases could occur sooner than expected by Wall Street. This news sent the stock market sharply lower. All three equities indices that we monitor declined for the week. The greatest percentage drop was the DJIA’s 3.4% down-move to 33,290.08, the steepest retreat since late autumn (down 6.5% the week ending October 29, 2020). The S&P 500 closed at 4,166.45 (-1.9%), the largest decrease in three and a half months (down 2.4% the week ending February 26, 2021). The NASDAQ Composite lost only 0.3%, ending at 14,030.38 on Friday. The telltale metric of the selloff can be gleaned by CBOE’s VIX, which soared 32.3% as the volatility marker jumped 5.05 points to 20.70 at the close. The U.S Dollar Index exploded up to 92.32 with a 2.0% leap, the strongest weekly move in over a year (+2.4% in the week ending April 3, 2020). The commodity sector took a dive during the week. Except for energy commodities, the other groups we track here got a pounding, as evidenced in S&P’s GSCI, which settled at 520.03 (-2.3%).
COVID-19 has caused more than 600,000 deaths in the U.S., equal to the nation’s cancer fatalities in 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University. The more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has now been detected in 46 states. Record-breaking heat continues to stress the western U.S. Tropical storm Claudette pounded parts of the South.
Metals collapsed for the seven futures in our recap, closing prices and percentages were as follows: gold at $1,769.00 (-5.9%), silver at $25.969 (-7.7%), platinum at $1,041.00 (-9.6%), palladium at $2,469.90 (-11.2%), copper at $4.1570 (-8.4%) and aluminum at $2,385.00 (-3.2%).
As implied above, the energy sector did not have a complete washout. The crude benchmarks were the only energy futures in the plus column, while the others eased off. Settlements and percent changes were: NYMEX WTI ended at $71.64 (+1.0%), ICE Brent increased 1.1% to $73.51 per barrel, heating oil retreated 1.3% to close at $2.0932, RBOB gasoline decreased to $2.1683 (-0.8%), and natural gas fell 2.5%, taking the July contract to $3.215 per MMBtu.
Long liquidation of deliverable agricultural products was spurred by the dollar strength, and likely by the triggering of stop-loss orders by speculators as well. Of our list of featured ag futures that we review in this grouping, eight of the products were in the red for the week. The scores looked like this: July soybeans plummeted 7.5% with a $1.12½¢ crash to $13.96 per bushel, wheat gave back 18¢ to $6.62¾ (-2.6%), corn ended at $6.55¼ (-4.3%), coffee retreated 4.8%, with the July futures ending the week at $1.4990 per pound, sugar lost 6.3%, settling at 16.43¢/lb., cocoa eased 1.2% to $2,372 per metric ton, cotton lost 3.0%, with July closing at 84.42¢ per pound. In percentage terms, lean hogs fared the worst: the August contract plunged 8.8% with a drop to $1.06675 per pound. This left live cattle as the sector winner, back above the price of hogs. August futures went up 2.5% to $1.21550 at Friday’s close.
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