Weekly Market Recap – May 28, 2021
Initial jobless claims fell to 406,000 vs. the previous week’s 444,000. Other economic statistics, compared to their prior levels, were as follows: the consumer confidence index was 117.2 vs. 117.5, and durable goods orders for April were down 1.3%, reversing the 1.3% rise in March. Personal income for April dropped 13.1%, which was a setback, compared with the 20.9% improvement in March. Consumer spending rose 0.5% vs. the prior month’s increase of 4.7%. New home sales were 863,000 in April, down from the March figure that was 917,000. The Case-Shiller national home price index, which reflects a 12-month change, rose in March by 13.2% vs. a 12.0% increase in February.
President Biden proposed a $6 trillion growth plan for 2022, which would take the U.S. to its highest level of Federal spending since World War II. Nationwide, over 33 million people have had the coronavirus; more than 592,000 have died from it, and approximately 50% of all U.S. adults are fully vaccinated. AAA expects that at least 37 million travelers will have ventured more than 50 miles from home, by road or by air, by the time the Memorial Day weekend is over: a 60% increase from last year.
The stock market benchmarks covered in our weekly recap trended higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 34,529.45 with a 0.9% rise, the S&P 500 added 1.2%, trading 4,204.11 at the close, and the NASDAQ Composite went out at 13,748.74 (+2.1%). CBOE’s VIX settled at 16.76 (-16.8%), its lowest end-of-week close in a month. On the currency side, the U.S. Dollar Index settled unchanged for the week, at 90.05. Commodity prices crept 2.5% upwards, as evidenced by the S&P GSCI, ending the week at 519.22; the increase was mostly due to bullish price activity in energy futures, which dominate the portfolio of contracts in the index.
Precious and base metals advanced. Their closing prices and percentage gains were as follows: gold at $1,902.50 (+1.4%), silver at $28.014 (+1.9%), platinum at $1,182.40 (+1.1%), palladium at $2,824.20 (+1.8%), copper at $4.675 (+4.4%) and aluminum at $2,483.00 (+4.8%).
The June gold settlement was its highest in 2021.
Energy markets we track were boosted by price gains, as mentioned above. Crude oil traders reacted to indications of rising demand for expected summer travel. NYMEX WTI rallied 4.3% and ICE Brent advanced 4.8%, taking these benchmarks to $66.32 and $69.63 per barrel, respectively. U.S. refined products followed suit, with June ULSD fuel closing at $2.0445 (+2.8%) per gallon and RBOB gasoline hitting $2.1402 (+3.5%). With the advent of hurricane season and hot U.S. temperatures in the longer-term forecast, natural gas resumed its up-trend, gaining 2.7% to end the week at $2.984 per mmBtu.
In the agricultural futures, our usual nine products were mixed in their directional movement: five of them increased, while four declined. Soybeans closed at $15.30½ (+0.3%). Corn and wheat slipped: with the former closing down 0.4% to $6.56¾, and the latter dropping to $6.63½ per bushel (-1.6%). The star performer in the Ags was coffee, leaping to $1.6235 per pound (+8.2%) due to severe drought issues in Brazil, which also impacted sugar. July sugar futures went out at 17.36¢ (+4.1%). Cocoa settled at $2,412 per metric ton (-1.8%), and cotton closed at 82.12¢/lb. (+0.8%). Livestock futures made an unusual flip: June live cattle eased to 115.875 (-1.5%) and June lean hogs firmed to 117.250 (+2.6%). These two markets have been converging since the start of 2021, and finally crossed over. On a per pound basis, hogs are now priced higher than cattle.
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