The major U.S. stock indexes experienced a second consecutive week of decline, as a solid daily gain on Tuesday failed to offset later-week declines. This modest two-week retreat contrasted with the four-month rally that preceded it, during which the S&P 500 saw increases in 16 out of 18 weeks.

Despite U.S. interest rates being at their highest level since 2001, a pair of reports underscored the persistence of inflationary pressures. Both a Tuesday report on consumer prices and a Thursday update on producer prices revealed price gains slightly surpassing economists’ expectations. The Consumer Price Index registered an annual 3.2% rate in February, up from 3.1% the previous month.

The latest inflation data prompted a shift in the interest-rate outlook, leading to a rise in yields of U.S. government bonds. After a retreat to 4.08% the previous week, the yield of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond rebounded to close at 4.31% by Friday.

Amidst tightening oil supplies, the price of U.S. crude experienced a roughly 4% increase for the week, peaking at around $81.60 per barrel on Thursday afternoon. Despite slipping to around $81.00 on Friday, oil prices remained near their highest levels in over four months.

February saw a 0.6% uptick in U.S. retail sales, slightly below economists’ consensus estimate, yet marking an improvement from January’s 1.1% decline. The revised January figure was adjusted from an initial estimate of a 0.8% decline.

U.S. small-cap stocks significantly lagged behind their larger counterparts, widening the small caps’ year-to-date performance deficit. The Russell 2000 Index recorded a 2% decline for the week.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is anticipated to maintain its benchmark interest rate unchanged at its upcoming two-day meeting concluding Wednesday. Observers will closely monitor any indications about the potential timing of rate cuts later this year, with most investors expecting a shift to rate-cutting mode to commence in either June or July based on Fed funds futures trading.

Major U.S. Economic Reports

NFIB optimism indexFeb.89.489.9
Consumer price indexFeb.0.4%0.3%
Core CPIFeb.0.4%0.4%
CPI year over year3.1%
Core CPI year over year3.9%
Monthly U.S. federal budgetFeb.-$296B-$262B
U.S. retail salesFeb.0.6%-1.1%
Retail sales minus autosFeb.-0.6%
Producer price indexFeb.0.6%0.0%
Core PPIFeb.0.4%0.6%
PPI year over year1.6%1.0%
Core PPI year over year2.8%2.7%
Initial jobless claimsMarch 8209,000210,000
Business inventoriesJan.0.0%0.3%
Empire State manufacturing surveyMarch-20.9-2.4
Import price indexFeb.0.3%0.8%
Import price index minus fuelFeb.0.2%0.7%
Industrial productionFeb.0.1%-0.5%
Capacity utilizationFeb.78.3%78.3%
Consumer sentiment (prelim)March76.5%76.9%

Closing Prices for the Week

Dow Jones Industrials Average38,714.77
Nasdaq Composite15,973.17
S&P 500 Index5,117.09
CBOE Volatility Index14.41
S&P GSCI575.34
U.S. Dollar Index103.432
10-Year T-Note (Jun ’24)110-025
Crude Oil WTI (May ’24)80.58
Natural Gas (May ’24)1.789
Gold (Apr ’24)2,161.5
Silver (May ’24)25.381
Corn (May ’24)436-6
Wheat (May ’24)528-4
Soybean (May ’24)1198-2
Coffee (May ’24)182.95
Sugar #11 (May ’24)22.12

Trading futures and forex involves significant risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone.

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