Weekly Market Recap – March 26, 2021
In the Markets
Initial jobless claims fell sharply to 684,000 vs. the previous week’s 781,000. Other economic statistics, compared to their prior levels, were as follows: the consumer sentiment index was 89.1 vs. 83.0, durable goods orders for February were down 1.1% vs. January’s 3.5% rise, February core capital goods orders were 0.8% lower than the previous month’s increase of 0.6%. Personal income for February dropped 7.1%, a setback compared with January’s 10.1% improvement. Consumer spending eased 1.0% vs. the prior month’s increase of 3.4%. February core inflation gained 0.1%; in January it had risen 0.2%. On a longer-term basis, gross domestic product for 2021’s first quarter climbed 4.3%, a higher increase than the 4.1% rise in Q4.
U.S. coronavirus cases have been increasing in twenty-six states, and deaths from the disease are rising in nine states. In the Suez Canal, a grounded 224,000-ton cargo ship, that carries 20,000 containers, has blocked marine commerce. This is disrupting the global transportation of goods ranging from cars and computers to cattle and crude oil. It is disruptive, as well, to military and humanitarian objectives. The loss per day is estimated at $7-9 billion.
Stock market indices that we track in this recap were mixed; the DJIA rose 1.4%, closing at 33,072.88 for the week, and the S&P 500 ended at 3,974.54 (+1.6%). Moving lower were the NASDAQ Composite and the Russell 2000; the former lost 0.6%, settling at 13,138.72, and the latter finished the week at 177.87 (-2.9%). The CBOE VIX displayed reduced volatility in stock options, as the index fell 10.0%, to an 18.86 close. On the currency front, the U.S. Dollar Index rose 0.9% to 92.72, its highest end-of-week valuation since November 13, 2020. As for the commodity portfolio in the S&P GSCI, the futures in the index held relatively steady, closing at 474.01 (-0.3%).
The metal futures we monitor were mostly weaker; four eased and two strengthened, closing as follows: gold at $1,732.30 (-0.5%), silver at $25.114 (-4.6%), platinum at $1,177.90 (-1.8%), palladium at $2,676.10 (+1.7%), copper at $4.0680 (-1.1%) and aluminum at $2,298 (+1.4%).
Energy commodities were fairly flat in their weekly moves. There was a slight pullback in NYMEX WTI crude oil (-0.8%) to $60.97 per barrel, and ICE Brent budged a bit higher, ending at $64.57 (+0.1%). U.S. refined product futures diverged somewhat: April gasoline added 1.2%, closing the week at $1.9673, and heating oil for April slipped 0.7% to $1.8100 per gallon. Natural gas had a lackluster week, given that the April ”shoulder month” is nearing. NYMEX Henry Hub nat gas firmed 0.9%, ending at $2.557 per mmBtu.
In the sector of food products and other agricultural items, the lion’s share of markets we cover fell during the week, except for livestock. Hog prices jumped 6.9%, surpassing $1 per pound for the first time since late 2014, to close at 100.800 on Friday. Cattle’s move for the week was an increase to 120.100 (+1.4%). Everything else we report in this grouping lost ground. The settlements and weekly movements were as follows: soybeans at $14.00½ (-1.1%), corn at $5.52½ (-0.9%), $6.13¼ (-2.2%), coffee at 128.50 (-0.4%), sugar at 15.19¢ (-3.6%), cocoa at $2,548 (-1.4%) and cotton at 80.38¢ (-5.1%).
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