Weekly Market Recap – March 12, 2021
In the Markets
Thursday’s initial jobless claims report came in at 712,000, compared with the previous week’s figure of 754,000. The Consumer Price Index for February was up 0.4% vs. 0.3% for January. Producer prices were up 0.5% vs. the prior month’s 1.3% increase. Wholesale inventories for January rose 1.3%; the December number was 0.3%. Household net worth for the fourth quarter of 2020 grew 10%, in comparison with the 7.5% gain in Q3. The federal budget for February showed a $311 billion deficit vs. January’s $235 billion deficit. President Biden signed the COVID-19 Relief Bill into law. The Internal Revenue Service announced that people would start receiving the stimulus payments, via direct deposit, over the weekend. As of Friday, 64 million Americans had been vaccinated with at least one dose.
Treasury yields continued climbing; front-month CBT T-Note and T-Bond futures fell to levels not seen since January 2020, inducing some equities investors to ramp up their buying programs. The stock market benchmarks we track in our recap had strong performances, with three of the four hitting new record highs on Monday. The largest weekly percentage movement was in the Russell 2000 (+6.3%), which ended at 186.96 on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 32,778.64 with a 4.1% rise. The S&P 500 added 2.6%, trading 3,943.34 at the close. The NASDAQ Composite, which made its all-time high a month ago, went out at 13,319.86 (+3.1% for the week). CBOE’s VIX settled at 20.63 (-16.3%), its lowest end-of-week close in five weeks. The U.S. Dollar Index eased a bit (-0.3%) to 91.66 as its final Friday valuation. Commodity prices were stable, moving sideways or only slightly higher on the charts. This was evidenced by the S&P GSCI, which added only 0.2%, ending the week at 492.21, its smallest increase in over three months.
Regarding metals markets, the futures we follow were mostly gainers: gold ended at $1,719.80 (+1.3%), silver settled at $25.911 (+2.5%), platinum jumped 6.4% to $1,200.30 per ounce, palladium rose 1.4% to close at $2,360.70 and copper increased 1.6% to $4.1400 per pound. Only one of the metal futures we feature moved lower, the three-month LME aluminum slipped 0.2% to $2,171.00 per metric ton.
Energy markets were mixed with the crude oil contracts receding slightly: NYMEX WTI ended at $65.61 per barrel (-0.7%) and ICE Brent eased 0.2% to its $69.22 settlement. Refined products traded higher for the week: April heating oil firmed 1.2% to close at $1.96.75 per gallon, while RBOB gasoline advanced to $2.1500 (+4.1%). Non-commercial selling continued to batter the natural gas market, It took a 3.7% drubbing down to $2.600 per MMBtu, the lowest Friday close in six weeks.
In agricultural futures, more products decreased than increased. Soybeans closed at $14.13¼ (-1.2%), corn also lost 1.2%, slipping to $5.39, and wheat fell 2.2%, ending the week at $6.38 ½ per bushel. In the softs, coffee performed best, rallying 3.2% to its end-of-week close of $1.33 per pound. Cocoa improved a bit (+0.9%), rising to $2,570/ton. Sugar and cotton both lost ground, settling as follows: sugar at 16.13¢ (-1.6%) and cotton at 87.56¢ (-0.2%). In livestock, although fractionally down, the April cattle price was statistically unchanged (0.0%), ending at 119.000 (vs. the previous week’s 119.025). The hogs, on the other hand, were the strongest among the food markets we follow. On Thursday, following the news that China’s soymeal futures had just tumbled due to a new outbreak of swine fever in South Africa, the CME lean hog contract for April delivery shot up 2¢, and stayed at that level through to Friday’s close of 91.400 (up 4.8% for the week).
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