Weekly Market Recap – March 5, 2021
In the Markets
Thursday’s initial jobless claims report was 745,000, compared with 736,000 the previous week. February’s non-farm payroll figure showed an increase of 379,000 jobs that came back vs. January’s 166,000 rise. In the Commerce Department’s report on the balance of trade for January, the deficit grew by $68.2 billion, compared with December’s $67.0 billion trade outflow. January factory orders rose 2.6% vs. +1.6% for December.
Worldwide, as of March 1st, more than 224 million people have been injected with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday, President Biden said that the United States was on track to have enough supply of coronavirus vaccines “for every adult in America by the end of May.” Under the Defense Production Act of 1950, the White House struck a deal with Merck & Co. to help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine. The governors of Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota have announced ending statewide mask mandates.
Stock market indices that we cover were mixed; the DJIA rose 1.8%, closing at 31,496.30 for the week, while the S&P 500 ended at 3,841.94 (+0.8%). The other two benchmarks on our radar, the NASDAQ Composite and the Russell 2000, both weakened; the former lost 2.1%, finishing the week at 12,929.15, and the latter settled at 175.84 (-0.1%). Volatility subsided in stock options, as the 11.8% drop in the CBOE VIX took the index to a 24.66 close. The U.S. Dollar Index rallied 1.2% to 91.98, its highest level since late November 2020. Commodity prices advanced again, as per the S&P GSCI, which gained 3.0% with its 491.43 close, the highest Friday valuation in forty months.
The seven metal futures we monitor were mostly weaker (five decreased, two increased), closing as follows: gold at $1,698.50 (-1.8%), silver at $25.287 (-4.4%), platinum at $1,128.30 (-4.8%), palladium at $2,329.10 (+0.7%), copper at $4.0755 (-0.4%) and aluminum at $2,176.00 (+1.1%).
In energy futures, Thursday marked a sharp rise in the petroleum sector, as OPEC news indicated that production by its members would stay unchanged for April, contrary to market expectations. This sparked a rally that sent the weekly change up 7.5% in NYMEX WTI, to $66.09 per barrel, and likewise, for ICE Brent, the weekly gain was +7.7%, with its $69.36 settlement. U.S. refined products followed suit: heating oil climbed 5.5%, closing the week at $1.9440, while RBOB gasoline jumped 5.9% to $2.0647 per gallon. Natural gas had an active week, as well, but in the opposite direction: NYMEX Henry Hub nat gas slid 2.5%, ending on Friday at $2.701 per mmBtu, its lowest close in five weeks.
Price moves in the agriculture markets resulted in a week with more decreases than increases. Only two of the nine products that we feature here traded to the plus side. Soybeans ended at $14.30 per bushel (+1.8%) Lean hogs, traded only fractionally higher (+0.03%), closing at 87.175 at the week’s end. The losers were led by coffee, with it’s 6.3% decline to 128.85, which was attributed to Monday’s report from the International Coffee Organization that global inventory was larger than industry analysts had expected. The settlement prices for the other Ags that declined were: corn at $5.45½ (-0.4%), wheat at $6.53 (-1.1%), sugar at 16.40¢ (-0.3%), cocoa at $2,546 (-2.2%), cotton at 87.76¢ per pound (-1.2%) and live cattle at 119.025 (-0.8%).
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