Weekly Market Recap – March 19, 2021

In the Markets

The initial jobless claims report, at 770,000, was the highest weekly number in five weeks; the count for the previous week was 725,000. February retail sales decreased 3.0%, compared with January’s 7.6% increase. Industrial production rose 1.3%, slightly weaker than the prior month’s +1.4%. Business inventories rose 0.3%, down from 0.8%. Capacity utilization increased to 73.8% over the previous month’s 75.5%. There were 1.52 million housing starts in February vs. January’s 1.58 million. Several European countries have mandated new lockdown restrictions as concerns mount over another surge in COVID-19 cases. The E.U. resumed the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. On Friday, the U.S. reached President Biden’s initial goal of 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses.

June T-Note and T-Bond futures made new 14 month lows, as the U.S. Treasury yields continued rising. The ten-year note contract fell 18/32 to 131-07, and the thirty-year bond declined 7/32 to 154-03. The stock market indices we cover here all eased from the previous week’s levels. The greatest percentage drop was the Russell 2000’s 2.0% down-move to 183.14. Both the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite slipped 0.8%: ending at 3,913.10 and 13,215.24, respectively. Closing at 32,627.97 on Friday, the DJIA lost only 0.5% for the week, but it did achieve an all-time high the day before, briefly surpassing the 33,000 mark. CBOE’s VIX soared edged upwards to 20.95 (+1.6%). In currency markets, the U.S. Dollar Index edged up +0.3%, trading at 91.92 at the close. The S&P GSCI slid, as the general commodity trend for the week was flat-to-down; the basket of futures closed down 3.4% at 475.23, its lowest end-of-week valuation in a month.

In the physical commodity sectors, metals fared best, mostly due to palladium’s 11.4% rise to $2,2630.90 in the June futures. The rally was driven by a report from Russia, the world’s number one producer of the metal, that there was a greater than expected supply deficit.
Aluminum closed up 4.4% for the week, ending at $2,265.50 per ton, the highest since June 2018. The rise was attributed to inventory shortages. The other metals futures we focus on in our recap closed as follows: gold at $1,741.70 (+1.3%), silver at $26.321 (+1.6%), platinum at $1,200.10 (0.0%), and copper at $4.1130 (-0.7%).

On the energy futures charts, the uptrend is breaking. Thursday’s sell-off in the crude contracts, and the continued weakness on Friday, came as traders anticipated the Sunday financial report from Saudi Aramco. For the week, NYMEX WTI tumbled to $61.42 per barrel, down 6.4%. Brent fell to $64.53 (-6.8%). Percentage-wise, U.S. refined products plummeted even more: heating oil dove 7.4%, closing the week at $1.8223, and RBOB gasoline crashed 9.6% to $1.9431 per gallon. Natural gas, reacting to a bearish storage report on Thursday, moved down 2.5% for the week, ending at $2.535 per mmBtu.

Turning to the agricultural markets, we saw a week with more declines than increases. Six of the nine products we feature here moved to the downside. The settlement prices were as follows: soybeans rising 0.2% to $14.16¼, corn gaining 3.5% to $5.57¾, wheat sliding 1.8% to $6.27 at the close, coffee dropping 3.0% to 129.000, sugar falling 2.3% to 15.76¢, cocoa retreating 3.0% to $2,493 per ton, cotton dipping 3.3% to 84.68¢/lb., cattle slipping only 0.5% to 118,400, and lean hog futures rising to 94.250, up 3.1% for the week. Pork prices are seeing 6½-year highs, partly due to U.S. winter-related production problems, but also to continued fears in China about swine fever affecting South Africa’s China-bound exports.

Trading futures and forex involves significant risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. World Cup Championship (WCC ) accounts do not necessarily represent all the trading accounts controlled by a given competitor. WCC competitors may control accounts that produce results substantially different than the results achieved in their WCC accounts. WCC entrants may trade more than one account in the competition. CME Group is the trademark of CME Group, Inc. The Globe logo is a trademark of Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc.

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