Weekly Market Review – July 17, 2021

Stock Markets

The major indexes closed at lower levels, although the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite touched new intraday highs within the week before ending with a correction. Equities suffered some losses this week but the uptrend established from the beginning of 2021 remains intact. That being said, there appear to be signs that a reversal may be taking place in the second quarter from the first quarter, suggesting that investors should take a more cautious approach. For one, the 10-year yields have returned to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that asset class performance and market-based inflation expectations have reversed in this second quarter. Furthermore, the rally for value investments, cyclical sectors and small-cap stocks have lost momentum. Central banks have also resumed deliberating about possible shifts in policy. While the second-quarter earnings reporting season has begun, market activity is noticeably subdued.

U.S. Economy

Data released during the weak indicated that headline and core consumer prices (excluding food and energy) had increased by 0.9% in June, which is twice the approximate consensus estimates, causing a retreat in stock prices on Tuesday. The core rate grew 4.5% in the last 12 months, the fastest increase in this indicator since 1991. Responsible for nearly one-third of the increase is the surge in used-car prices; even so, inflationary pressures were perceived by consumers, with food prices increasing by 0.8% for the month, and gasoline prices rising by 2.5%. The New York Federal Reserve announced on Monday that year-ahead inflation expectations are now at the highest on record since 2013, at 4.8%. Concerns were somewhat allayed when Fed Chair Jerome Powell informed Congress that inflation pressures are temporary and there is still substantial progress expected on the Fed’s employment and inflation goals. The Fed is generally expected to taper asset purchases before raising short-term interest rates, a move that is intended to maintain downward pressure on long-term rates. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans cautioned on Thursday that tapering too early could undercut the Fed’s objectives.  

  • Economic data released this week were mixed relative to expectations. A slight contraction in manufacturing output for June was attributed to difficulty among carmakers in finding chips for their production efforts. In contrast, in the New York region, an index of manufacturing activity touched a record high, indicating that there is strength in both new orders and shipments. Weekly jobless claims have reached a low for the pandemic period at 360,000, which is just in line with analysts’ expectations.
  • The was a 0.6% increase in retails sales in June, outperforming consensus expectations of a decline by 0.4%. Without counting the auto sector which had been volatile due to the global chip shortage, sales increased by 1.3%. The effects of the reopening of the economy were evident in the Commerce Department data, with consumer purchases shifting from home goods towards leisure, restaurants, and apparel. Inflation worries continued to affect consumer sentiments as mirrored by the University of Michigan’s preliminary gauge of consumer perceptions. Consumer complaints concerning the surging prices of homes, vehicles and household durables have reached an all-time high, based on the survey conducted by the university.

Metals and Mining

The spot price of gold was up by 0.3% for most of the week, although it corrected slightly at the close of Friday’s trading. Price appreciated by 0.21% week-on-week, closing at $1,812.05 per ounce from last week’s $1,808.32 per ounce. The contraction on Friday is attributed to a stronger dollar, weighing the metal further from its one-month high in the previous session. Despite Friday’s sell-off, gold still ended up for the week. Further declines in the price of this precious metal appears to be limited, however, because of the improving physical demand for bullion particularly from China, a top global consumer, as well as central bank purchases. Gold saw a one-month high last Thursday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated the central bank policy to remain accommodative. This stance by the Fed may continue for some time while Delta variant cases continue to intermittently spike for an indefinite time.

In the market of other precious metals, palladium dropped 6.45% for the week, ending at $2,630.83 per ounce from last week’s $2,812.18 per ounce. Platinum, on the other hand, traded sideways, registering a marginal 0.2% gain to close at $1,104.91 per ounce from $1,104.67 per ounce.  This was Palladium’s first weekly decline in the last four weeks. Tepid trading in both was due to the reported decline in U.S. motor vehicle sales due to supply chain problems caused by a global semiconductor shortage. Both metals are used in the automotive manufacturing industry to limit emissions in engine exhaust systems. Meanwhile, silver slid by 1.69%, closing at $25.66 per ounce from last week’s $26.10 per ounce.

Base metals also ended mixed for the week. Copper lost 0.35% from last week’s close of $9,519.50 per tonne, ending Friday at $9,486.50 per tonne. Zinc also lost by 0.29%, closing the week at $2,968.50 from $2,977.00 per tonne. On the other hand, Aluminum gained 0.66%, from $2,501.50 to $2.518.00 per tonne. Tin outperformed the other metals for the week. The price of tin rose by 4.58%, closing at $33.130.00 per tonne on Friday from the previous week’s $31,680.00

Energy and Oil

A familiar path forward for the global oil markets became evident as a result of the baseline amendment agreement struck between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The lack of particulars on exactly how OPEC+ members would bring back production levels still suggests much uncertainty. Amidst a peak driving season, lackluster demand from the US continues to cast doubts on the robustness of global gasoline demand. A return to pre-pandemic demand is foreseen by OPEC by 2022. Assuming effective containment of COVID-19, the annual average demand is expected to reach 99.86 million barrels per day, amounting to a 3.4% year-on-year growth.

The demand for fossil fuels will continue to grow as global electricity demand growth overtakes aggregate renewals capacity growth. The production of more fossil fuels will be necessary to match the accelerating needs, according to the International Energy Agency or IEA. The IEA forecasts that 2021 power consumption will rise by 5% year-on-year, and an increment of 4% in 2022. In the global arena, India seeks to entice investors in the upstream oil industry by reducing the number of regulatory approvals needed to launch an exploration project. The streamlined procedures will involve only 18 from what were formerly 37 approvals, in an attempt to resuscitate its upstream sector. India produces about 770,000 barrels per day of crude and is facing structural decline, with 80% reliance on oil imports.

Natural Gas

For this report week (July 7, Wednesday, to July 14, Wednesday), natural gas spot prices rose at most locations. The Henry Hub spot price increased to $3.75 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) from $3.60/MMBtu the previous week. The price of the August 2021 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) contract climbed by $0.06 to $3.660/MMBtu from $3.596/MMBtu. The price of the 12-month strip averaging August 2021 through July 2022 futures contracts increased by $0.06/MMBtu to $3.478/MMBtu.

World Markets

European shares slid on worries that coronavirus cases may once more spike and cause a derailment in the efforts to secure economic recovery. Furthermore, investors are concerned that central banks may shift to tighter monetary policies sooner than they originally intended to in response to a surge in inflation. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index closed the week lower by 0.64%. The major European stock indexes mirrored the pan-European index. France’s CAC 40 Index dropped by 1.06%, Italy’s FTSE MIB Index dipped 1.03%, and Germany’s Xetra DAX Index slid by 0.94%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index underperformed the other indexes, losing 1.60% of its value during the week’s trading. The core eurozone government bond yields declined in tandem with the move in US treasury yields, in reaction to the reaffirmation by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank that the inflationary increase is merely temporary. Investors’ concerns about the delta variant and other rapidly spreading strains of the coronavirus appeared to weigh on yields. While the peripheral eurozone bonds tracked core markets in general, the UK gilt yields appeared to have bucked the trend and remained flat. The weredownward pressure on yields caused by the movement in the U.S. Treasuries was somewhat offset by the higher-than-expected inflation results in the UK and hawkish commentaries from some policymakers from the Bank of England.

In Japan, stock markets realized modest gains during this trading week. The Nikkei 225 Index appreciated 0.22% while the broader TOPIX Index gained 1.04%. The fourth coronavirus state of emergency was imposed on Tokyo this week, to continue until August 22 and covering the entirety of the Olympic Games. The announcement was in line with government efforts to mitigate the resurgence of COVID-19 infections. The highest daily count in new cases since January was recorded in the capital during the past week. In light of this development, the yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond dipped marginally to 0.02%, even as the yen remained unchanged at JPY 110.04 versus the U.S. dollar. Meanwhile, in China, the Shanghai Composite Index and large-cap CSI 300 Index gained 0.4% and 0.5% respectively in volatile trading. The announcement of China’s second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) on Thursday was consistent with expectations, providing much-needed relief to the choppy markets. Equity inflows into China through the Stock Connect channel entered into positive territory as a result of the announcement of the most recent GDP data, exhibiting the highest data inflow in the last ten months. Foreign investors picked up financial, technology and consumer stocks with strong fundamentals. They generally avoided expensive counters such as electric vehicles. Regarding the pandemic situation, only a small number of new coronavirus cases were reported in some provinces in southern China.

The Week Ahead

In the coming week, watch out for important economic data to be released, including Housing starts, the PMI composite, the Leading Economic Indicators.

Key Topics to Watch

  • NAHB home builders’ index
  • Building permits (SAAR)
  • Housing starts (SAAR)
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Existing home sales (SAAR)
  • Index of leading economic indicators
  • Markit manufacturing PMI (flash)
  • Markit services PMI (flash)

Markets Index Wrap Up

Weekly Market Review – July 10, 2021

Stock Markets

The stock market index benchmarks closed the week mixed as the large-cap and growth stocks surge higher for the second week in a row. Sectors sensitive to interest rate movement, such as the real estate sector, outperformed the rest of the market due to the plunge of the longer-term Treasury yields. Underperforming other sectors are the energy stocks, on the back of worries that the failure of major oil producers to see eye-to-eye will result in some of them disregarding the output agreements. The communication services sector was weighed down by weakness among media stocks. Friday’s recovery appeared to lift the markets higher, however, with the broader S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index reaching record highs, possibly due to anticipation of strong second-quarter earnings reports in the coming week. This week’s trading was shortened by the observance of Independence Day on Monday, during which time markets remained closed.

U.S. Economy

The sentiment during the week was principally driven by the decline in U.S. Treasury yields. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note hit close to a five-month low on Thursday and retraced some ground thereafter before the week’s end. Early in the week, investors were heartened by the decline as equities were pushed up by the shift from fixed-income investments to corporate dividends, and the implied lower discount on future earnings. While equities investors welcomed the initial drop in Treasury yields, later in the week they became concerned that this decline signaled a slowdown in the future global growth. There were also worries that Chinese officials may ease monetary policy to drive its economy higher. Other economic news that came out during the week still indicated strong growth, but did come out more modest than expected. The ISM gauge of service sector activity in June was below expectations, while the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index slid to its lowest level in four months. What went higher were the weekly jobless claims, and the May job openings rose less than anticipated.

  • The labor market is expected to resume its momentum upward for the second half of the year, as a result of the expiration of extended unemployment benefits, rising wages, and the return of children to school. The unemployment rate will likely drop and job growth speed up. Together with high levels of household savings, these developments should drive an above-average rate of consumer spending that will likely result in an extension of the economic expansion.
  • The quarterly GDP growth rates likely peaked during the first semester, but the U.S. GDP growth rate is historically more robust in the second half as it is expected to approximate 6% in the remaining two quarters of the current year. The possibility of imposing restrictions due to the emergence of more covid variants is remote but still concerning. Rising inflation still looms as consumer prices continue to increase at the fastest rate in three decades. Consumer demand continues to outpace supply. It is uncertain how soon supply will catch up because supply chain disruptions and labor shortages continue to remain tenuous. Steep increases in the prices of commodities such as lumber may prevail in the near future.

Metals and Mining

Gold rose 1.18% during the week, from $1,787.30 per ounce the previous week to $1.808.32 on Friday’s close. This was its best weekly performance in nearly two months, drawing its momentum from a weaker performance by the dollar and worries of the possible spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus that may slow down global economic recovery. In light of the possibility that the country may see full employment in the next few quarters and that the U.S Federal Reserve is convinced that inflation may not breach the targets for the period, the gold may see $1,850 before the end of the year. Since gold is a hedge against economic and political risks as well as soaring inflation, buyers continue to be attracted by the uncertainties posed by the coronavirus in the future. The weakening of the dollar also made the yellow metal cheaper and therefore more enticing for investors holding other currencies.

As for the other precious metals, silver softened slightly, losing 1.40% when it closed the week at $26.10 from last week’s $26.47. Platinum gained by 1.00%, closing at $1,104.67 from the previous week’s $1,093.74 per ounce. Palladium likewise gained, higher by 0.78% from $2.790.29 at its previous close to $2,812.18 on Friday. Base metals were also mixed for the week. Among those that gained in value is copper, rising 1.53% from $9,376.50 to $9,519.50 per tonne. Zinc also rose by 16.20%, from $2,562.00 to $2,977.00. per tonne. Aluminum slid downwards by 14.77%, descending from the previous week’s close at $2,935.00 to $2,501.50 per tonne. Tin saw a slight gain, from $31.520.00 to $31.680.00 per tonne, or a marginal increase of 0.51%.

Energy and Oil

Oil prices surged forward on strong demand for fuel manifested by seven straight weeks of inventory draws. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association or the EIA, gasoline demand in the U.S. surged by 870,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the week just concluded. In light of the summer driving season, the country’s gasoline consumption figures reached a two-year record high. The crude oil inventory report of yesterday enabled prices to recover to profitable levels. Any further upside to oil prices appears limited, however, without an OPEC+ agreement as market participants continue to weigh the possibility of disagreements within the alliance. Prices will only be sustained if further discord is contained within the oil price cartel. Worries about a possible price war seem so far unfounded and pre-emptive, as the risk of such price war materializing is quite low. The OPEC+ is generally highly benefitted by the workings of the tight oil market, and would only expect this advantageous working relationship to be compromised in the event of a serious departure from their mutual agreement.

Natural Gas

The spot prices of natural gas descended at most locations during the report period June 30, Wednesday, to July 7, Wednesday. The Henry Hub spot price fell this past week to $3.60 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) from the previous week’s $3.72/MMBtu. The price of the August 2021 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) contract fell from $3.650/MMBtu to $3.596/MMBtu, a loss of $0.05. The price of the 12-month strip averaging August 2021 through July 2022 futures contracts slid to $3.416/MMBtu, a decrease of $0,01/MMBtu.

World Markets

European shares moved sideways during the week. It recovered from a sharp pullback earlier due to concerns of a resurgence of pandemic cases in light of new variants of the coronavirus. It was speculated that another round of restraints will likely jeopardize the global economic recovery and growth. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index ended 0.19% higher for the week while major indexes were mixed. Italy’s FTSE MIB Index fell 0.91% and France’s CAC 40 Index descended 0.36%. On the other hand, Germany’s Xetra DAX Index climbed 0.24%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index remained unchanged. The core eurozone bond yields mirrored the U.S. Treasury yields which ended lower for the week, although global bonds rallied. Weak U.S. services economic activity data, as well as coronavirus variant concerns brought equities lower, although they drove demand for high-quality government bonds, pushing yields down. U.K. gilts and peripheral eurozone government bonds followed core markets for the week’s trading.

Japan’s equities markets fell sharply during the week. The Nikkei 225 Index fell 2.93% while the broader TOPIX Index likewise slid 2.25%. The concerns about emerging coronavirus variants slowing economic growth were again echoed in this country, dampening investor sentiment and sending stocks lower. The yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond declined to 0.03% in anticipation that major central banks will continue with supportive monetary policy without any intentions of tightening anytime soon while the pandemic poses risks of resurgence. The yen rose to 110.01 against the U.S. dollar as a result of the strengthening of safe-haven demand. In the meantime, Tokyo will soon be placed under a state of emergency for the fourth time.

In China, stocks ended the week in mixed trading with equities registering mixed signals. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index inched higher slightly, while the large-cap CSI 300 Index lost marginally. There was heavy selling in the technology sector in response to increased regulatory risk, as Beijing was reported to intensify oversight of U.S.-listed Chinese counters, most of which are classified under the technology sector. Additionally, domestic tech companies will continue to be the subject of a government crackdown. Regarding its monetary policy, the People’s Bank of China announced unexpectedly that it shall reduce its reserve requirement ratio (RRR). This is the amount of cash that the central bank requires banks to hold. This is expected to unleash some RMB 1 trillion worth of long-term liquidity into the economy. The RRR was more about the government reallocating credit to China’s small and medium-sized enterprises rather than about monetary easing. Since it was undertaken days before July 15 when China is scheduled to report its second-quarter GDP, the decision appears to be as much motivated by Beijing’s worries about flagging economic growth. China’s 10-year sovereign bond declined eight basis points to 3.02%. The renminbi lost 0.2% to end at 6.487 versus the U.S. dollar.  

The Week Ahead

The coming week brings several important economic data, among which are the Retail Sales growth, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report, and the Hourly Earnings Growth

Key Topics to Watch

  • NFIB small-business index
  • Consumer price index
  • Core CPI
  • Federal budget
  • Producer price index
  • Beige book
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Import price index
  • Empire state index
  • Philadelphia Fed index
  • Industrial production
  • Capacity utilization rate
  • Retail sales
  • Retail sales excluding autos
  • Consumer sentiment index
  • Business inventories

Markets Index Wrap Up

Weekly Market Review – July 3, 2021

Stock Markets

The stock market gained upward momentum with both the broad S&P 500 Index and the tech=heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closing a fifth successive quarterly rise. The Russell 1000 Growth Index saw an eighth straight weekly gain as large-cap growth stocks led the market advance this week. In the S&P 500, technology and health care stocks outperformed the other sectors although consumer discretionary stocks also showed strength boosted by solid gains in Nike shares. After their strong gains last week, the small- and mid-cap stocks took a respite this week with a minor correction. Although quarter-end rebalancing caused an increase in volumes traded, they remained relatively quiet. A long weekend awaits as the U.S. markets will remain closed on Monday in observance of Independence Day, since July 4 falls on the preceding Sunday.

U.S. Economy

The week saw the announcement of generally positive economic data. The index of consumer confidence performed better than expected as it posted a 16-month high. Surprising gains in housing prices spurred the sentiments of homeowners, and the labor market likewise exhibited robustness that buoyed American optimism about the recovering economy. The Labor Department released a Friday report that 850,000 nonfarm jobs – the most in the past ten months – were added by employers in June; for a change, this bested the consensus estimate of 700,000 by the highest margin since August of last year. The drop in weekly jobless claims was also better than expected, registering 364,000 which is the lowest it has been during the pandemic era. The biggest surprise of the past week was the pending home sales data which surged 8% in May, in contrast with the consensus expectations which bet on a slight decrease. On the low side, factory activity lost some ground by a bit more than expected based on the Institute of Supply Management’s indicator, although the figures still showed a relatively healthy expansion. The factors that impeded faster growth were identified as labor and material shortages.

  • Although job gains were a welcome relief, unemployment climbed closer to 5.9% while labor participation remained unchanged. This indicated a failure to meet the Federal Reserve’s threshold for “substantial further progress.” Payrolls for the previous two months were adjusted upward by 15,000, with 40% of the gains contributed by leisure and hospitality, the sectors that lagged the most as a result of the pandemic. Hospitality has much more ground to cover despite outperforming the other sectors in the last five months. From its level in February 2020, employment in this sector is still down by 13%. There is enough momentum for this gap to be covered considering the strong vaccine roll-out, higher consumer savings, and pent-up demand.
  • The rosy labor situation notwithstanding, it did little to change the outlook of the Federal Reserve. The Fed’s interpretation of the labor and inflation data is crucial as it will guide the monetary policy they will set out, which is likely to tighten aggressively and earlier than expected. As observed, the employment level remains short of its pre-pandemic level by 6.8 million. The Fed’s parameter for a full, broad-based, and inclusive employment situation, therefore, remains unmet. That being said, there appears to be no urgent reason for monetary tightening measures to be advanced, and the Fed will likely maintain its policy of accommodation for the near future. The speedy pace of job creation will likely encourage policymakers to adopt tapering over the next few months, a reduction in the rate of asset purchasing which is a step towards normalization but far short of tightening.

Metals and Mining

In the week just completed, gold rose slightly by 0.33% to end at $1.787.30 per ounce from $1,781.44. The buying interest in the yellow metal was spurred partly by a weakening of the dollar and investors’ assessment of possible monetary tightening policy by the Federal Reserve. The positive U.S. job report appears to have allayed the fears of a more aggressive policy by the Fed, although some reservations remain as a result of the slight increase in the monthly unemployment rate from 5.8% to 5.9%. Midway through trading, the spot price of gold hit $1,794.86, the highest it has seen since June 18. Another factor that contributed to this market optimism is the increase in U.S. nonfarm payrolls by a larger-than-expected figure at 850,000. The slow rate of coronavirus vaccination roll-out in some parts of the world also appears to have somewhat tempered investor sentiment as some countries in Asia and Europe walked back on their prospects of reopening.

As for the other precious metals, the price of silver increased by 1.42% for the week, ending at $26.47 per ounce from $26.10 the previous week. Platinum saw a slight correction with its close at $1,093.74, down by 1.53% from $1.110.72 per ounce. Palladium chalked in a solid gain of 5.67% with its jump from $2.640.45 to $2.790.29 per ounce. The week’s trading in base metals was mixed with the prices of copper and zinc rising and those of aluminum and tin falling. Copper ended 0.39% down from $9.413.50 to $9.376.50 per tonne. Zinc fell from $2.907.50 to $2.562.00 per tonne, a correction of 11.88%. Aluminum surged from $2.486.00 to $2.935 per tonne, a significant increase of 18.06%. Tin inched upward by 2.42% from $30,774 to $31,520 per tonne.

Energy and Oil

Controversy marked the OPEC+ meeting as the decision expected on Thursday was marred with a delay. The volume of the proposed production increase came at an average monthly addition of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), which was smaller than the 500,000 bpd expected by industry analysts. Oil prices thus fell on the news. However, the outcome may still be bullish. The UAE delayed the deal as it asked for a higher production quota. This caused some difficulty in the negotiations. The OPEC+ is aware that the other members may protest should the UAE be given the authority to produce from a different base. The group will again confer on Friday.

In the U.S., gas prices reached their highest average level in seven years as motorists faced an extended holiday weekend. Banks have begun to reduce their exposure to the U.S. shale patch, compelling traditional lenders to cut their losses and reduce the risk on their energy loan portfolios. Alternative sources of capital have advanced to take over the U.S. energy debt at a discount and enter into equity or debt transactions that may enable them to realize expedited gains than would a bank loan. In their neighbor to the north, new regulations were announced to effectively prohibit the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles in Canada in a plan to phase out internal combustion engine modes of transportation by 2035. This mirrors the current trend in Europe where EV sales rose to comprise 11% of all cars sold in 2020 compared to 3% in 2019.

Natural Gas

Liquified natural gas (LNG) prices around the world are seeing their highest levels in years mainly due to the elevated temperatures, particularly in the northern hemisphere. There is increasing demand for power generation to provide for air conditioning, while traders in other regions are beginning to replenish their stocks in anticipation of the increased demand for winter heating. The European gas markets title transfer facility (TTF) reached their peak levels in years, while the JKM marker, an important indicator for the spot market value of cargoes delivered ex-ship into the Asian markets, has jumped above $13 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). The deliveries to the markets in Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan constitute the majority of global LNG demand.

During the report week June 23 to June 30, natural gas spot prices rose at most locations. The Henry Hub spot prices increased to close at $3.72/MMBtu from the previous week’s close of $3.33/MMBtu. The July 2021 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) contract expired Monday at $3.617/MMBtu, an increase of $0.28/MMBtu from the previous week. The August 2021 NYMEX contract prices rose to $3.650/MMBtu, higher by $0.30 over the week earlier. The price of the futures contract for the 12-month strip averaging August 2021 through July 2022 grew by $0.21/MMBtu to $3.429/MMBtu.

World Markets

In Europe, equities were slightly lower due to concerns that inflationary forces may bring about an increase in interest rates. Another dampener on investor sentiment was the news that a highly infectious variant of Covid-19 was spreading and threatened the fledgling economic recovery. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index slid 0.18%, while major indexes were mixed. Germany’s Xetra DAX Index gained 0.27%. Italy’s FTSE MIB Index gave up 0.89% and France’s CAC 40 Index likewise fell 1.06%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index declined by 0.18%. The core Eurozone bond yields dropped in reaction to news of the spread of the Delta variant in Europe. The European Central Bank (ECB) President, Christine Lagarde, drew attention to the new virus threat and its impact on the economic recovery of the region. The peripheral bond yields followed the cue of the core markets, as well the UK gilt yields. The prospects of U.K. inflation were dismissed by Bank of England (BOE) Governor Andrew Bailey as being temporary, causing gilt yields to further decline.

The Japanese stock market returns slumped for the week also on concerns that coronavirus resurgence may materialize despite the vaccine rollout. The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.97% while the broad-based TOPIX lost 0.32%. The yen also declined in value to its lowest point since February of last year, ending the week at JPY 111.43 versus the U.S. dollar. The Japanese 10-year bond yield slid to 0.046%. Since the Olympics are slated for July 23, the government is assessing a possible extension of its July 11 expiration of its coronavirus restrictions. Presently, a quasi-state of emergency is in place as coronavirus cases appear to be trending up. Keeping the restrictions in place will reduce the maximum number of spectators allowed into the Olympic venues to 5,000. A ban is in place for spectators from outside the country, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is prioritizing the safety and security of the Japanese people.

Equities trading for the week was similarly lackluster in China. Weekly losses were posted by both the Shanghai Composite Index and the large-cap CSI 300 Index after a correction from the biggest one-day drop on Friday for each bourse since March. The sell-down was attributed to profit-taking by domestic investment funds and open market operations by the country’s central bank to drain funds from the financial system. Investors were anticipating highly liquid markets leading into the celebration of the ruling Communist Party’s 100th anniversary on Thursday, following a cash injection of the week ahead. There was an increase in the seven-day interbank rate of approximately 30 basis points above the official target, but analysts surmised that this was more a reaction of market pressures at quarter-end and was not necessarily indicative of tighter monetary policy. The People’s Bank of China announced in its latest policy meeting that it would maintain stability in the macro leverage ratio, which suggested that the central bank will forego any plans of tightening policy soon.

The Week Ahead

Looking forward to the coming week, investors can expect the release of the following key economic data: the PMI composite, Consumer Credit, and Domestic Auto Sales.

Key Topics to Watch

  • Markit services PMI (final)
  • ISM services index
  • Job openings
  • FOMC minutes
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Consumer credit
  • Wholesale inventories

Markets Index Wrap Up

Weekly Market Review – June 26, 2021

Stock Markets

The stock markets rebounded strongly from the decline during the previous week. The broad S&P 500, as well as the technology-dominated Nasdaq Composite Index, ascended to record highs as both experienced their largest weekly gains since the start of April. Although volumes were modest which is typical of summer trading, equities rose steadily for most of the week. The energy sector fared best among the components of the S&P 500 due to the strong price increases among the oil stocks. Oil companies surged to their highest prices since October 2018, mainly due to slackening global inventories. Underperforming the rest of the market were utilities and real estate stocks. Stocks and other sensitive securities also got a boost later in the week from the pronouncement that an agreement had been reached by a group of 10 senators on a bipartisan infrastructure deal roughly in the amount of 1 trillion US dollars. However, the bill has still to be drafted and is expected to face strong resistance from both sides of the aisle.

U.S. Economy

The stellar performance of equities this week appears to indicate that the economic recovery is still going strong, despite the pullback of the previous week. Conditions continue to remain favorable while the growth rate expectedly slows in light of the ground already covered from the low point during the pandemic. There remains no significant change in the outlook of the financial markets as well as the underlying economy. A further driver may be the agreement on the infrastructure deal worth arrived at by a bipartisan group of senators, although it may head into significant resistance as it makes its way through Congress to become a law.

  • Economic activity in the private sector is expanding at a fast pace. The preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for June, which is a leading indicator of economic activity, is signaling that output in the private sector is expanding robustly despite a slight slowdown from the record levels in May. The manufacturing activity index, on the other hand, rose to a level not seen since 2007 when data began to be collected; simultaneously, the services index lost ground and pulled the composite index down with it. It appears that the continued rise in demand since the virus began to subside is spreading out over a broader base to include previously constrained consumer-facing businesses. This suggests that the next phase of the recovery will be driven by increased consumption of service products.
  • The results of the annual stress test of the banking sector, which aims to determine the resilience of the large financial institutions under conditions of severe global recession, have been released by the Federal Reserve. All 23 banks subjected to the test passed, signaling that the restrictions on dividends and share repurchases related to the pandemic may already be lifted. Although this news is already anticipated by investors, the financial sector may see a positive reaction due to this outcome.

Metals and Mining

After gold prices plunged in the previous week on the back of inflation rate concerns, the yellow metal moved higher on Friday, its first weekly gain in more than a month. Although gold futures hardly changed, the spot price of gold experienced a week-on-week gain of 0.98%, from $1,764,16 per ounce in the previous week to $1,781.44 in the week just concluded. Silver, palladium, and platinum also rose on higher margins, showing a distinct trend in precious metals. Silver gained 1.20%, moving from $25.79 the week earlier to $26.10 per ounce on Friday. Platinum gained by a significant 6.44%, ending Friday at $1,110.72 from last week’s $1.043.48 per ounce. Palladium gained the most, rising by 6.67% to end at $2.640.45 from the previous week’s $2.475.46 per ounce. Demand for gold increased due to the lower-than-expected inflation rate as the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price index, the preferred inflation measure by the Fed, fell below expectations in May.

Prices of base metals also showed gains in the just concluded trading week. Copper gained 2.93%, ending Friday at $9,413.50 per tonne from the week-ago close of $9,145.50. The other metals rose even higher. Zinc closed Friday at $2.907.50 from the earlier week’s $2.822.50 per tonne, an increase of 3.01%. Tin ended $30,774 from an earlier $29,862 per tonne, or a rise of 3.05%. But aluminum outperformed the rest, rising by 4.23% from $2,385 to $2,486 per tonne.

Energy and Oil

Oil closed another week of price gains despite the slightly volatile trading this week as OPEC+ prepared to mount a scheduled increase in production. Elsewhere in the world, oil exploration and production appear headed for choppy waters. At home, the federal government indicated that it would support the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, and in Europe, Chevron committed not to cut its oil and gas production in contravention of the trend among other European supermajors who are shifting to solar or wind power. British Petroleum (BP) is also decided to continue in the production of oil and gas for the coming decades as it sees benefits in the coming increase in oil prices. BP plans to maintain its oil and gas production even though it may be reducing production volume preparatory to shifting to show carbon energy. Oil output will continue to remain lackluster, however, despite the 400% increase in the number of fracking crews working the U.S. shale patch. Growing demand for oil and gas will continue to push prices upward, with the danger of a supply shortage slowly shaping up.

Natural Gas

U.S. liquid natural gas (LNG) prices are poised to rise despite the expansion of production in this arena. Continued supply of LNG to feed the growing Asian demand has pushed the cost of LNG upwards for U.S. producers this year. According to a Rystad Energy report, the short-run marginal cost of U.S. LND exports to Asia is estimated to increase to about $5.60 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) as of June 2021. This is an increase of 30% from last year’s average of $4.30/MMBtu, and 65%, from $3.4/MMBtu in mid-2020.

At most locations for the report week June 16 to June 23, natural gas spot prices increased. The Henry Hub spot price increased to $3.33/MMBtu by the week’s end from $3.17/MMBtu at the start of the week. The price of the July 2021 New Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) contract climbed by $0.08 from $3.251/MMBtu to $3.333/MMBtu week-on-week. The price of the 12-month strip averaging July 2021 through June 2022 futures contracts gained $0.05/MMBtu to end at $3.259/MMBtu.

World Markets

The European stock markets gained ground through the week in volatile trading, on the optimism driven by news of a bipartisan agreement that may usher in a one-trillion-dollar U.S. infrastructure spending plan. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index close the week up by 1.23% even as the main stock indexes also registered gains. Italy’s FTSE MIB rose 1.16%, Germany’s Xetra DAX Index gained 1.04%, and France’s CAC 40 increased by 0.82%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index outperformed the other stock markets, growing by 1.69%. The core eurozone government bond yields closed marginally higher for the week as the German bund tracked Treasury yields and thereafter pushed by strong purchasing manager’s index (PMI) data and robust business confidence indicators. Thereafter, however, the yields corrected in response to cautionary signals from the Bank of England’s (BOE). Peripheral eurozone bond yields were similarly volatile. The UK gilt yields lost some ground as it reacted to the BOE’s pronouncement that near-term inflation strength may be temporary.

In Asia, Japanese equities were off to a rocky start for the week as it precipitously lost ground on the first trading day only to rebound the following day. Investor sentiments thereafter took a downturn when the Federal Reserve announced a possible tapering of its accommodative policies earlier than previously expected. Subsequent reassurances from the central bank that it will maintain its supportive measures towards continued economic recovery restored some stability to the markets. The Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.35% while the TOPIX grew by 0.83% for the week. Also during the week, the Japanese yen weakened against the U.S. dollar to a level it had not seen since March 2020, due to the disappointing domestic economic data. The yield on the Japanese 10-year government bond similarly slid to 0.05%. In the meantime, Japan attained its target of 1 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered per day for the first half of June, slightly ahead of the Prime Minister’s announced expectations.

Robust equities trading brought a gain of 2.7% to China’s large-cap CSI-300 Index while the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.3%. The gains ended a three-week-long decline in the Chinese stock markets. The rally was led by financial stocks as the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) released some liquidity into the domestic financial system, the first time it had done so since February this year. Renewable energy companies saw some buying interest from investors after the National Energy Administration of China declared that more than 50% of rooftop spaces on government buildings will be converted to solar panels and a lower target for other buildings such as schools and hospitals. Also seeing gains are domestic leisure and travel stocks on reports that it is unlikely that the country will open its international borders for the rest of the year. The yield on China’s 10-year sovereign bond closed the week at 3.10%, 10 basis points lower. The renminbi had a weak beginning but subsequently rallied to end the week unchanged against the U.S. dollar at RMB 6.453.

 The Week Ahead

Among the important economic data scheduled for release in the coming week are the Durable Orders, the Dallas Fed Index, and the unemployment rate.

Key Topics to Watch

  • New York Fed President John Williams speaks at BIS panel
  • S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller home price index (year-over-year)
  • Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin interviewed
  • Consumer confidence index
  • ADP employment report
  • Chicago PMI
  • Pending home sales index
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Markit manufacturing PMI (final)
  • ISM manufacturing index
  • Construction spending
  • Motor vehicle sales (SAAR)
  • Nonfarm payrolls
  • Unemployment rate
  • Average hourly earnings
  • Trade deficit
  • Factory orders

Markets Index Wrap Up

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Weekly Market Review – June 19, 2021

Stock Markets

Throughout the past week, the stock markets surprisingly declined due to the Federal Reserve’s June 15-16 policy meeting and subsequent comments from a Fed official later in the week concerning a potential hike in interest rates earlier than expected. The Fed meeting drew close attention, coming soon after the latest inflation announcement showing that core consumer prices are increasing at a rate faster than at any time in the last two decades. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended lower as a result of the pronouncement. Several cyclical companies that are most reliant on economic growth are listed in the DJIA, which explains the greater downturn. On the other hand, the Nasdaq Composite Index, which tracks the technological industry, exhibited only a moderate loss. As expected, the S&P 500 that measures the broad market likewise declined. Large capitalized equities were more resilient than the small caps. Growth stocks in general did better than the value stocks because investors unloaded stocks in the energy and financial sectors. The fear is that the Fed may remove the policies that accommodated businesses, and rates may be raised sooner than market participants were initially led to expect.

U.S. Economy

The Fed stimulus was the driver for the recent bull market, but concerns about rising inflation have caused investors to be wary of their market positioning. If it is any indication, however, the lack of substantial volatility in the uncertain market is a sign that investors still have a sense that the economy is likely to recover further, justifying higher prices still in equities. Despite the news that the Federal Reserve meeting may taper future bond purchases, the Fed signaled that it anticipates that the first interest rate hike may still take place in 2023. Inflation is therefore seen to be merely transitory for now, and even factoring in the announced acceleration in the timeline the rate hike is still seen to be two years away. There is still therefore room for further economic growth without signs of overheating that would justify the Fed adopting measures to reign in excess liquidity.

Metals and Mining

Gold took a deep dive in the past trading week. Spot gold prices lost 5.93%, ending this week at $1,764.16 per ounce, down $100 from last week’s close of $1,875.31. This precipitated a similar decline across the precious metals market and creating deeper price declines for silver, palladium, and platinum. The Federal Reserve released a cautionary announcement on Wednesday that forecasted at least two quarter-point rate increases by 2023, although for the short-term the Fed promised to retain a supportive stance to enhance jobs recovery. The announcement caused the dollar to surge above a two-month high that eroded the bullion’s value as investors transferred to U.S. Treasury yields and increasing the opportunity cost of holding gold. A further pullback may be possible as speculative play in gold is dampened until lower levels are attained.

Following the gold sell-off, silver lost 7.76% ending at $25.79 per ounce from last week’s $27.96. Palladium closed at $2.475.46 per ounce, down 11.05% from the previous week’s $2,783.10. Platinum slid 9.03% from the previous week’s $1.147.08 to end at $1,043.48 per ounce. The significant drop in palladium may be followed by a correction if a rally materializes in the coming week, as the sell-off appears to have been overdone for this metal. The weakening physical demand in gold and the other precious metals may see these prices further recede after some buying correction. But the coming bearish sell-downs may entice some value investors to buy the dips, as a further move to $1,700 may attract buyers.

Energy and Oil

The oil price rally of the past months appears to have entered into consolidation this past week as the markets weigh in on the change in outlook by the Federal Reserve. The potential interest rate hikes announced to take place in 2023 will likely raise the price of oil in non-dollar-denominated economies, thereby causing a reduction in demand. While many oil traders expect the price to remain above $70 per barrel for the near future, $100 appears more and more to be an achievable target. This outlook must be balanced, however, by the move towards electric vehicles (EV) by more automotive manufacturers. General Motors, for instance, expects to raise EV spending to $35 billion within the four years to 2025, and also invest in two new U.S. battery plans. The move appears to be a competitive play to match Ford’s announcement several weeks ago that it will spend $30 billion on EV’s by 2030. Another factor to consider is that the level of drilling and, subsequently, capital investment appears inadequate, as it has been for several years, to maintain current levels of oil production. Coupled with this is a projected increase in oilfield services due to increasing demand on oilfield service providers. There is already a discernible increase in activity and an increase in the pricing of services, that may materialize in a stronger uptrend in the coming months.

Natural Gas

The price of natural gas increased at most locations for the reporting week June 9 to June 16. This is in response to the continued hot weather throughout the western United States that has spurred demand for air conditioning and its attendant clamor for electric power. The Henry Hub spot price increased to $3.17 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the end of the week from $3.10/MMBtu at the start of the week. The price of the July 2021 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) advanced by $0,12 from $3.129/MMBtu on June 9 to $3.251/MMBtu on June 16. The 12-month strip averaging July 2021 to July 2022 contracts were priced higher by $0.10/MMBtu at $3.204/MMBtu.

World Markets

In Europe, equities shed significant margins in reaction to the announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve that it will increase rates earlier than anticipated. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 lost 1.19%. Italy’s FTSE MIB Index dropped by 1.94%, Germany’s Xetra DAX descended by 1.56%, and France’s CAC 40 Index slid 0.48%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index decreased by 1.63%. The core eurozone government bond yields, on the other hand, climbed in tandem with the U.S. Treasury yields in line with the announcement by the Fed of the projected interest rate increase for 2023. A cautious word from the European Central Bank (ECB) has tempered this move. The peripheral government bond yields closely mirrored the core markets. UK gilt yields are bound for higher levels as the Bank of England (BOE) announced that it would tighten monetary policy after inflation surpassed the bank’s target, and also in response to the Fed’s more cautious forecast.

Japan’s stock market ended mixed with the Nikkei 225 Index advancing 0.05% and the broader TOPIX Index receding 0.38%. The Japanese 10-year government bond yield rose to 0.06% as the yen came down to JPY110.23 versus the dollar. Coronavirus restrictions were eased by the government just slightly more than a month before the start of the Olympics. Also to be lifted will be the state of emergency in nine prefectures; nevertheless, seven areas will remain under a quasi-emergency state, including Tokyo and Osaka. The loosening of restrictions comes in response to the nationwide reduction in infections and the speedier deployment of vaccines. The government remains cautious as cases may again spike due to possible furtherance of the contagion.

In China, stocks registered a loss for the third consecutive week. The large-cap CSI 300 Index slumped by 2.3% while the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.8%. There was a discernible A-share liquidity in June even as domestic mutual funds appeared to bow to increased pressure for redemptions. On Friday, an official of the 2021 China Association of Automobile manufacturers projected an increase in New Energy Vehicle (NEV) share of new vehicles will grow from 20% to 30% within five to eight years, causing a rally in NEV stocks. Regarding fixed-income securities, the yield on China’s 10-year government bond ascended five basis points to 3.20%. In currency trading, the renminbi (RMB) lost some value to the U.S, dollar, closing at 6.44 per dollar. In the meantime, economists perceive that China’s growth momentum may have peaked in light of the weaker-than-expected May economic data announced by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The Week Ahead

Consumer income and consumption, market manufacturing PMI, and the GDP are among the important data expected to be released in the coming week.

Key Topics to Watch

  • Existing home sales (SAAR)
  • Current account deficit
  • Market manufacturing PMI (flash)
  • Markit services PMI (flash)
  • New home sales (SAAR)
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Durable goods orders
  • Nondefense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft
  • Trade in goods, advance report
  • GDP (revision)
  • Personal income
  • Consumer spending
  • Core PCE price index
  • UMich consumer sentiment index (preliminary)

Markets Index Wrap Up

Weekly Market Review – June 12, 2021

Stock Markets

The S&P 500 moved on to a new record high during an otherwise lightly traded week, helped along by a sharp decrease in longer-term bond yields. Growth stocks were pushed higher by the decline in yields as they tended to reduce the implicit discount on future earnings. Financials were weighed down, however, due to the threat, the falling yields had on banks’ lending margins. The Nasdaq Composite Index was buoyed to a fourth weekly gain by its technology-based stocks. On the other hand, the narrower Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) registered a marginal drop. In the S&P 500, the surge was spearheaded by the health care sector as a result of the strong showing of Biogen. The driver behind optimism in the drugmaker’s shares is the broad authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Aduhelm, Biogen’s new product for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.   

U.S. Economy

The key economic news this week still focuses on the rising inflation rate as the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 5% from year-ago levels. The core index that excludes food and energy rose by 3.8% year-over-year, representing the highest 12-month growth since 1992. This is not remarkable since last year’s prices took a deep plunge during the worst of the pandemic, and prices are only seeking to recover ground lost since then. It is a cause for concern, though, that there is also a strong month-over-month rise in prices. For instance, from April to May, there was a significant spike of 0.7% in the core index when the expected increase was 0.5%, and which is more than thrice the average monthly increase going back five years.

  • The price surge in May appears to be mainly attributable to a few categories of goods and services more severely affected by the pandemic. They are experiencing a jump now because the economy is opening up. They include restaurant dining, airfare, car rental, and hotel prices benefitting from the release of pent-up demand as people are returning to their former spending habits. There is still some leeway at the top for prices to continue rising since they are still currently off by 12% from their pre-pandemic levels.
  • Despite previous nervous reactions to news of inflation increase, bot the equity and bond markets hardly reacted to the increase in inflation this week. Investors appear to be agreeing with the outlook of the Federal Reserve that price pressures are only temporary as the economy recovers. The two main Fed mandates, employment maximization, and price stability appear to be sending mixed signals, thus the possible further upside in employment leads policymakers to believe that higher inflation can still be tolerated. This is supported by an increase in vaccination rates, growing consumer demand, and rising consumer profits. Some volatility may occur, however, as indicators struggle to find their equilibrium.

Metals and Mining

The price of spot gold dropped by 1.04% to $1,875.31 per ounce, from last week’s $1,894.96, It slipped on the prospect of a stronger dollar and the likelihood that investors have discounted future inflation spikes as transitory. Gold price came from an intra-month high last May of $1,900 per ounce, but it remained above the previous week’s support of $1,860. Gold futures also settled marginally lower at $1,879.6 per ounce. The failure of gold to break above $1,900 suggests the slowdown of inflation hedging flows and opening the possible further softening of gold prices to $1,850 per ounce. Silver slightly rose during the week by 0.68%, from $27.77 to $27.96 in mostly sideways trading.  Platinum followed gold downwards, sliding by 0.92% from last week’s close of $1,157.70 to this week’s $1,147.08 per ounce. Palladium ended last week at $2,732 and this week at $2,783.1 for a gain of 1.87% during this week’s trading. It is likely that automobile companies have anticipated the impending worldwide semiconductor shortage and are ideally positioned with their inventories of these two auto catalyst metals, thus the relative lack of volatility in their price movements.

Energy and Oil

Due to the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iranian officials, oil prices dropped during a Thursday sell-off but showed modest gains on Friday. The U.S. Department announced that it is removing from its list of designated persons three directors of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and speculations arose that Iran may enhance the current oil supply. Early trading Friday pushed oil prices higher to recover lost ground and post a slight gain on optimistic news about the U.S. economic recovery and the speed-up of the vaccination campaigns globally. These bring increasing pressure on OPEC+ to ease up on their production constraints to circumvent an overheating oil market. The International Energy Agency (IEA) foresees the possibility that global oil demand will rebound and exceed the past pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year. Demand fell by 8.6 million barrels of oil per day (mb/d) in 2020 and is expected to rebound by 5.4 mb/d in 2021, plus another 3.1 mb/d in 2022. There is therefore a need for oil production to be boosted to ensure adequate supply to meet the demand.   

Natural Gas

The U.S. exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are poised to significantly increase production in 2021 from the record highs set in 2020 to meet the growing demand in Asia and Europe even during off-peak season. LNG prices are also expected to increase in response to the strong demand in China, as can be seen from the strong gains posted in spot prices in the past weeks. It is likely prompted by the tightening of Asian LNG balances as a result of the strong generation demand in southern China coinciding with the peak nuclear maintenance in South Korea. The LNG demand in India during its recent Covid peak has also stabilized.

In most locations during the past report week covering June 2 to June 9, natural gas spot prices increased. The rise in demand is attributed to the increased air conditioning demand as warmer-than-normal weather descended on most of the country. The increased demand for air conditioning caused a higher demand for natural gas for power generation. The Henry Hub spot price ascended from $3.05 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the beginning of the week to $3.10/MMBtu by the week’s end.  The price of the July 2021 NYMEX contract inched up by $0.05 from $3.075/MMBtu to $3.129/MMBtu. The price of the 12-month strip averaging July 2021 through June 2022 futures contracts increased by $0.06/MMBtu to $3.108/MMBtu.

World Markets

European shares moved up for the fourth week in a row, partly buoyed by the commitment of the European Central Bank (ECB) to pursue its high rate of bond purchases for the third quarter. For the past week, the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index closed 1.09% higher. Germany’s Xetra DAX moved sideways, Italy’s FTSE MIB Index grew 0.57%, and France’s CAC 40 Index outperformed the others by gaining 1.30%. The UK FTSE 100 Index rose 0.92%. Eurozone government bond yields lost ground in reaction to the ECB’s pledge to continue with its bond-buying program at the present pace for the next three months. The ECB forecast likewise indicated that inflation is expected to settle below its 2023 target.

Japanese equities remained relatively unchanged for the week. The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 0.02% while the broader TOPIX Index fell 0.26% on listless trading. The Japanese economic recovery remains fragile, but there was some optimism as the quasi-states of emergency were lifted by the government in three prefectures in light of the slowing infection rates and easing pressure on the hospital system. The yield on the Japanese 10-year government bond dropped to 0.03% which is the lowest encountered since the first month of the year. Japan is included in the list of 110 countries and territories towards which the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has eased travel restrictions. The yen remained at JPY 109.5 versus the dollar.

Some pessimistic sentiment beset the Chinese bourses as stocks fell for the second week in a row. The CSI 300 Index tracking large-cap stocks dipped by 1.1% as the broader Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1$. The renewal of COVID-19 controls by authorities in Guangzhou due to a rise in the outbreak of cases cautioned investors from aggressive positioning in the market. Casino shares also weakened when Macau, responding to the announcement, banned nonresidents from entry through Guangdong province. On the positive side, the U.S. and China agreed to resume talks on trade improvement and investment ties. In its bond markets, the trend in yields moved gradually higher since late May. The yield on the 10-year Chinese government bond closed at 3.15%, four basis points higher, on the prospect of higher producer price inflation. The RMB (renminbi) was unchanged versus the dollar after a trading week of hardly any volatility.  

The Week Ahead

Among the important economic data expected next week are retail sales, producer price data, and the leading economic indicator index.

Key Topics to Watch

  • Retail sales
  • Retail sales excluding autos
  • Producer price index
  • Empire state manufacturing index
  • Industrial production
  • Capacity utilization
  • Business inventories
  • NAHB home builders’ index
  • Building permits
  • Housing starts
  • Import price index
  • Federal Reserve announcements
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell press conference
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index
  • Index of leading economic indicators

Markets Index Wrap Up

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Weekly Market Review – June 5, 2021

Stock Markets

Trading was truncated this week as markets were closed on Monday in commemoration of Memorial Day. This left major indexes slightly higher for the week with energy shares outperforming other sectors in the S&P 500 Index. The strong performance was attributed to the increase in oil prices to their highest level in two years. Trailing among the sectors were the consumer discretionary shares, pulled down by the decline in Tesla share prices. Volumes traded were light as may be expected during the summer holidays. Buying and selling by retail investors were concentrated among the smaller-cap, consumer-oriented shares popular on social media. Trading particularly heavily and with strong volatility were theater chain AMC shares. There is also some temerity in stock activity as worries about possible inflation increases are still prevalent.

U.S. Economy

Still, the focus of attention was the strengthening economic recovery. The release of the closely monitored monthly nonfarm payrolls report caused a stir on Friday, with the Labor Department reporting the addition of 559,000 jobs in May which was still short of the forecasted 670,000. Job growth may be improving, but recovery is not as speedy as initially estimated. The labor force participation rate also trended lower at 61.6% from 61.7%. There was some good news, though, as the unemployment rate dropped from 6.1% to 5.8%. Average hourly rates grew by half a percentage point, suggesting a contracting labor market. The payroll gains have doubled in May over the preceding month, which signals that hiring momentum may be increasing as the economic reopening gains steam.

  • About 7.64 million jobs are still unrecovered compared to pre-pandemic levels, thus there is still much room for expansion in the labor market. There is every reason to believe that the job growth rate will continue to increase for the coming years as jobs lost to the pandemic will return. So far, the strongest gains in hiring are emanating from the leisure and hospitality sectors (292,000) and the education sector (144,000). These were the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, suggesting an upturn in the last sectors to have lagged.
  • Continued economic expansion may be driven by increased consumer spending resulting from the rise in wages and employment. While the rise in average hourly wages is encouraging in this respect, it also cannot be dismissed that it may also contribute to rising inflation. It is highly improbable at this point, however, that a wage-price spiral may occur because of the depressed income and employment levels during the pandemic. At present, however, the float of stimulus money and current labor shortage may prompt the Federal Reserve to adopt tighter monetary policies to get ahead of inflationary pressures. Although the prospects of increasing inflation may not be dismissed, neither does it seem imminent, thus it is unlikely that the Fed may prematurely impose excess liquidity tightening measures.

Metals and Mining

For most of May, gold prices trended upwards to rise above $1,900 per ounce, an uptrend that prevailed until the end of the month. As of June, however, it appears that the uptrend has been interrupted and prices began to descend. The unemployment report released during the week indicated less than 400,000 applications, prompting worries of more stringent monetary policies by the Federal Reserve. The price of gold plunged to $1,860 per ounce before pulling back higher to close the week at $1,894.96. There is still significant upside, however, since the historic ratios for gold miners’ valuations vs. the price of gold are still multiples ahead.

Silver traded sideways for the last trading session of May, beginning the week at $27.77 per ounce and proceeding higher the following way to $28.44. Pressure then took over to send the metal down to $27, ending the week at $27.77. Platinum also dropped 2.4% for the week that saw prices at their lowest in two months. Despite holding above the $1,160 level for most of May, it dipped to $1.138 per ounce during the week but ended Friday at $1,157.70. Its importance in the production of clean energy suggests that higher prices may be forthcoming. Palladium held above $2.700 per ounce for the week, a correction from its all-time high in May. It ended the week at $2.732, largely on concerns regarding supply issues since palladium is a catalyst metal.

Base metals mirrored the lackluster performance of the precious metals group. Copper moved closer to $10,212.50 per tonne on the first trading day of June, but traded south below $10,000 two days later and ended the week at $9,967. The pullback was not entirely unexpected, although the dips were met with bargain hunting, indicating possible upwards movement after some consolidation. Zinc traded above $3,000 until Wednesday, but Thursday onward saw it drop to end the week on Friday at $2,977.50. The price of Nickel climbed in the last two weeks of May, From $16,781, it rose 8% to $18,147 on the first of June. On Friday, it was valued at $17,945. Finally, lead traded sideways during the week, beginning at $2.208 per tonne, touched $2,228.50 by midweek, and closed Friday at $2,193.50.

Energy and Oil

OPEC+ has drained global inventories worldwide and sent oil prices soaring during the week. While part of the bullish sentiment is due to anticipation of the pandemic’s end, it was also triggered by the likelihood that the US may not agree to a resumption of the Iran nuclear deal. Oil appears to be gearing for a breakout above $70 per barrel as players begin to see this as a sustainable level.

Further signaling threats to oil supply is the suspension by the US of new leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The suspension may trigger moves toward litigation, but even with this, the ANWR may remain suspended for some time as legal proceedings unfold. Canadian oil has also come under pressure from shareholders to reduce its emission levels which are presently higher than that of US-based companies. Analysts estimate that nearly half of all Canadian oil production has pledged to net-zero emissions in the future. Colombian oil is also under threat as violent anti-government protests threaten the country’s security. Road blockades related to the political unrest are impacting the Colombian petroleum industry as well as the country’s economic recovery in general.

Natural Gas

The prices of liquid natural gas (LNG) are rising together with the strengthening demand. For the second consecutive week, Asian spot prices climbed to return to their highest levels since January driven by strong demand from China and Europe. LNG trade reached record highs last year at the same time its global trade volume soared to peak levels, despite a slowdown in the growth rate resulting from the pandemic. For the report week, May 26 to June 2, natural gas spot price movements were mixed on listless trading. The Henry Hub spot prices increased to $3.05 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) from $2.88/MMBtu at the start of the week. The June 2021 NYMEX contract expired on June 2 at $2.984/MMBtu. The July 2021 contract price rose by $0.05/MMBtu to $3.075/MMBtu during the week. The 12-month strip averaging July 2021 through June 2022 futures contracts were priced at $3.049/MMBtu, higher by $0.05/MMBtu.

World Markets

Optimism prevailed in the European bourses as the prospects of continued economic recovery grew brighter. However, investors’ concerns are growing that the central banks may deem inflationary pressures were intensifying to the point that they may withdraw stimulus sooner than originally anticipated. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index closed on Friday 0.80% higher than last week’s close. Italy’s FTSE MIB outperformed the other indexes, rising 1.59%. Germany’s Xetra DAX Index added 1.11% to last week’s close, while France’s CAC 40 Index rose by 0.49%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index also gained, by 0.66%. The core eurozone bond yields lost ground as did the peripheral European bond markets which tracked the core. UK gilt followed US Treasury yields higher.

Stock trading in Japan was mixed over the past week as the Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.71% and the broader TOPIX Index rose by 0.60%. Investor sentiment was tepid as the government extended the coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, and seven other prefectures to the 20th of June. The Japanese 10-year government bond remained unchanged at 0.08%. Regarding currencies, the yen closed lower against the US dollar at JPY 110.18. Over the longer term, the OECD revised Japan’s economic growth projections upward, to 2.6% in 2021 and 2.0% in 2022. Japan’s GDP per capita is expected to return to its pre-pandemic levels by the third quarter of 2021.

China’s stock market corrected slightly for the week after three weeks of continuous gains. The benchmark Shanghai Stock Exchange dipped lower by 0.2% while the large-cap CSI 300 Index slid slightly further by 0.7%. In May, foreign investors poured money into Chinese stocks and bought up $8.7 billion worth of equities, making this the highest single-month gain in foreign stock investments this year. The bond market’s yield paused in its downtrend. The 10-year Chinese government bond (CGB) yield increased by 2 basis points to 3.11%; compared to other major government bond yields, this modest rise appeared relatively high. Bloomberg’s local currency index for CGBs over the last six months returned 3.4%; comparatively, the spread for 10-year U.S. Treasury yields contracted by almost 100 points.  

 The Week Ahead

Investors can look forward to the release of the consumer price index (CPI), hourly earnings, and consumer credit reports in the coming week.

Key Topics to Watch

  • Consumer credit
  • NFIB small-business survey
  • Trade deficit
  • Job openings
  • Wholesale inventories
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Consumer price index
  • Core CPI
  • Business formations (year-over-year change)
  • Household wealth (year-over-year change)
  • Federal budget
  • Consumer sentiment index (preliminary)

Markets Index Wrap Up

Weekly Market Review – May 29, 2021

Stock Markets

Light trading prevailed during the week while recording solid gains, raising the S&P 500 Index close to 0.5% of its all-time intraday high that it achieved in the first week of May. It retraced thereafter but remained up for the month. The light volumes were evident with Monday experiencing the fifth-lowest turnover in a non-holiday session from the beginning of the pandemic. Among the week’s best performing indexes are the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the small-cap Russell 2000 index. Value shares were easily outperformed by their growth counterparts, with Facebook and Alphabet, owner of Google and YouTube, spearheaded communication services stocks listed in the S&P 500. Tesla rebounded strongly, thus boosting consumer discretionary shares. The light trading marked the long holiday weekend; markets will remain closed on Monday, May 31, Memorial Day. The lack of directional drivers for the week also contributed to the listless trading as investors were sidelined in the absence of any buying or selling motivation.

U.S. Economy

The previous week’s worries concerning runaway inflation subsided during this week. Some confidence has returned among investors as about 97% of S&P 500 listed companies have released their first-quarter earnings results. It is not surprising that earnings are expected to increase by 50% from year-ago levels since the previous year’s earnings were depressed by the pandemic. The income and spending data for the first quarter indicate that consumers still have significant excess savings that are likely to fuel demand for goods and services as economic activities begin to normalize,  

  • The strong recovery in profitability is fueled by pent-up demand from the pandemic lockdowns and the buying power enabled by the government’s stimulus packages. There is a slight lag in the pace of hiring which is nevertheless compensated by an increase in the adoption of the appropriate technological systems. Companies took advantage of record-low interest rates and are thereby realizing significantly lower interest expense in financing their operations.
  • The US dollar has significantly weakened against international currencies, which is an advantage for multinational companies as U.S. goods and services are now more competitive in the international market. With respect to the adequacy of supply chains, the higher input costs and material shortage may pose challenges to companies’ profitability in the short term. Companies impacted nevertheless appear willing to pass the added costs on to consumers who are not short of buying power to absorb the price increases in the near future. Towards 2022 borrowing costs are expected to rise while the economy expands, and the labor supply tightness currently experienced will ease off as wage growth accelerates and the employment slack is gradually eliminated.

Metals and Mining

Precious metals performed remarkably well in the past week, with gold exceeding $1,900 per ounce for the first time since January. It traded briefly as high as $1,909 on Wednesday before the release of positive U.S. economic data and rising 10-year Treasury yields arrested the flight to value. While the price returned to below $1,900 levels, investors expect gold to again surge in mid-year since in the summer of 2020, gold traded at above $2,000 per ounce. It is, therefore, possible that it will test those highs again this year as continued overspending and poor fiscal policy will provide a catalyst for its continued ascent. As of Friday, gold traded at $1,893.23.

Silver likewise climbed to a three-month high of $28.16 per ounce during the week. The gold/silver ratio reached a multi-week high of 70 as silver neared the $30 level. The ratio has then receded slightly and may decline to the low 60s level during the third and fourth quarters of this year, although some see the metal testing higher levels in the second half of 2021. Silver closed the week trading $27.77 per ounce. Palladium continued to reach fresh ground this week, as platinum also fetched higher prices. Platinum ascended to $1,203 but corrected to end Friday at $1,166.25 per ounce, and palladium traded at $2,724 per ounce at the end of the week.

Base metals also moved northward across the trading week, recovering lost territory during the correction in the previous week. Supply shortage became imminent with the issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding the export of copper and cobalt concentrates. This led copper to rally from $9.868 at Monday’s opening trading to $10,032 by Friday. Zinc neared $3,000 per tonne in late trading but reached resistance and descended slightly to $2,994 per tonne. Nickel slid to $17,000 briefly, thereafter rallying to $17,300. Stainless steel will remain the main application for nickel through the next ten years as it is driven by demand from China. Nickel traded $17,364 on Friday,  Lead ended the week at $2,182.50 per tonne, an increase of $50 for the week.

Energy and Oil

The oil industry experienced a memorable week as oil majors appear to be embarking on a new strategic direction. Foreseen restrictions on the supply side appear to add momentum to a bullish scenario in the market, but the impact on the fundamentals is not expected to become evident in the short term. Cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 45% towards 2030 are expected to cause the rest of the industry to experience a decline in its energy output. A sharp drop in oil and gas sales resulting in a supply crunch may result in the long term due to legal exposure to Scope 3 emissions. Increasing credit risk is foreseen by Moody’s Investor Service for the major oil producers due to climate change concerns. In the meantime, the largest oil producers in the Arab Gulf appear to be considering a shift to hydrogen production, particularly the more sustainable type produced from water electrolysis supplied with electricity from wind and solar energy. The move to hydrogen is gradually gaining momentum among governments and the world’s largest oil companies.

Natural Gas

This report week, May 18 to May 26, natural gas spot price movements ended mixed. The Henry Hub spot price remained unchanged at $2.88 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). On Wednesday, the June 2021 New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) contract expired at $2.984/MMBtu, higher by $0.02/MMBtu from the previous week. During the same week, the July 2021 contract price was unchanged at $3.027/MMBtu. The price of the 12-month strip averaging July 2021 through June 2022 futures contracts ascended to $3.004/MMBtu, higher by $0.01/MMBtu.

World Markets

The European exchanges reacted favorably to the continued signal that the U.S. will continue pursuing a slack monetary policy and a massive fiscal spending plan. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index closed higher for the week by 1.02%. France’s CAC40 climbed 1.53%, Italy’s FTSE MIB Index gained 0.78% and Germany’s Xetra DAX Index advanced 0.53%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index moved sideways for the week partly due to the UK’s appreciation against the US dollar. The UK currency has been gaining strength for the past five consecutive weeks, encouraged by the reopening of the economy and comments by the Bank of England (BoE) that it may start to raise interest rates by the first semester of 2022. The core eurozone bond yields eased but rose suddenly by the end of the week as U.S. Treasury yields descended. Peripheral European markets’ bond yields closely tracked the core. UK gilt yields countered the core’s direction, however, when it ascended sharply upon the BoE’s announcement of increased interest rates.

The Japanese stock market also gained for the week, as the Nikkei 225 Index ascending by 2.94% and the broader TOPIX Index rising by 2.24%. Japan’s acceleration of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which is scheduled for the next three months, met with positive reactions from investors. The enhanced vaccine deployment coincided with the fourth wave of infections, leading authorities to declare states of emergency over a large part of the country, including Tokyo. Fears arose that the Olympic Games might again be postponed from its July 23 starting date, particularly because the U.S. State Department had issued a travel warning for its citizens bound for Japan. The yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond remained unchanged at 0.08% as the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar to around JPY 109.82.

Chinese stocks surged as both the CSI 300 Index and the Shanghai Composite Index registering the best weekly increase in more than three months. As China passed a milestone of more than 500 million COVID-19 vaccinations, tourism-sector stocks and other counters leverage to an economic reopening rose sharply. Financial policy regulators attempted to reduce financial risk by signifying zero tolerance for commodity speculation and cryptocurrency mining. Chinese regulators likewise rejected applications for the issuance of RMB 154 billion of asset-backed securities from several companies, in a further effort to curb financial risk. The yield on the 10-year sovereign bond ended at 3.09% for the week. Short-term rates were consistently low and stable in money markets, as they have been throughout May. The renminbi rose against the U.S. dollar by 1.1%; it is at its highest exchange rate against the dollar since June 2018. Daily net equity inflows from Hong Kong into China reached $3.4 billion in midweek, which is among the largest daily net inflows on record.

The Week Ahead

Among the important economic data to be announced in the coming week are Unit Labor Costs, productivity growth, and the Markit PMI index.

Key Topics to Watch

  • Markit Manufacturing PMI (final)
  • ISM manufacturing index
  • Construction spending
  • Motor vehicle sales (SAAR)
  • Beige Book
  • ADP employment report
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Productivity (revision)
  • Unit labor costs (revision)
  • Markit services PMI (final)
  • ISM services index
  • Nonfarm payrolls
  • Unemployment rate
  • Average hourly earnings
  • Factory orders

Markets Index Wrap Up

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Weekly Market Review – May 22, 2021

Stock Markets

The stock indices registered mixed outcomes after increased trading volatility the past week. Ending marginally lower is the large-cap S&P 500 Index, while the tech-dominant Nasdaq Composite Index increased slightly. The mixed results indicate that there is a measure of strength and resiliency in the US economy, although concerns are increasing surrounding the inflation rate the whether or not the Federal Reserve might adopt more severe measures to temper the overheating economy. The sector that posted the strongest gain in the S&P 500 is health care, while energy and industrials registered the greatest loss. The issue that affected the markets the most is that of the likelihood of inflationary pressures. The economy is gradually picking up steam while corporations report record profits over the previous year, the rising inflation appears to be less threatening in light of the bigger picture. The stock market’s performance appears to be quite stable and continued growth is expected even in light of the occasional volatility.

U.S. Economy

While concerns about a possible derailment of the ongoing economic recovery are understandable, the broader picture continues to be that of an intact and stable economy. Worries about rising inflation are nothing new in the recent economic milieu, and a rundown of the prior risk factors will provide a sense of how economic indicators will achieve equilibrium in the long run. We might cite the following:

  • The 10-year Treasury yield, which is the benchmark for the 10-year interest rates, began 2021 below 1% for the first time in history. It promptly surged from 0.93% to 1.73% by the end of the first quarter. Because of the suddenness of its rise, stock investors were taken by surprise and cause the market to pull back by 4% twice during the same period. We observe that rates may be higher but historically are far from high. The expectations for stronger economic growth which had driven the interest rate increase, coming from a year of economic recession due to the lockdowns, appears to be a factor that will continue to influence the markets in the long term.
  • The steep rise in stock prices from the deep market drop in March of last year has brought valuations to their peak in the last two decades, causing investors to worry that a major market correction is impending. In the first year of the recovery, the S&P 500 ascended by 75% as investors priced in their speculations that a strong rebound in corporate profits is imminent. That expectation is materializing, with earnings reports showing a 49% increase for the first quarter of 2021. Prices have increased faster than reported profits, although this is far from resembling the 90’s dot-com bubble or the financial asset crisis of past years because this time around profits are recovering from a deep fall than coming off their peak levels.

Metals and Mining

Gold continues on its upward trend that began towards the end of February, increasing at a rate of 8.9%. The recent strong performance of the 10-year Treasury yields and the U.S. exchange rate that tended to halt the advance of metal prices have decreased in April, providing gold an opportunity to advance further. The drop in yields and the dollar were in turn prompted by the strong inflation push during the week. Aside from improving fundamentals, however, the technicals show an increasing likelihood of an upward trading momentum since investors are of the opinion that the metal has already attained an interim trading low. Gold traded at $1,872.45 per ounce on Friday, May 21.

Silver approached the $30 per ounce resistance level on May 17 at the start of the trading week, but it lacked the momentum to break out. Although silver did not make it past the threshold, the continuation of the trend is likely to keep the metal at its previous highs after a period of moderate gains over the next two years. At some point, silver will gain sufficient strength to break through the barrier, possibly coinciding with the next economic and financial meltdown. The target price may be $50 at that instance. As for this week, silver closed at $27.43 on Friday.

Palladium, on the other hand, reached an all-time high of $2,829 per ounce this week due to tightness in the supply that may stretch throughout the remainder of 2021, further contributing to the rise in price. It might test the $3,000 level for the year, representing an increase of 37% year-on-year. It settled at $2,691.50 per ounce at midday last Friday. Platinum ended the week flat at $1,168 per ounce, declining 4% from Monday.

In the base metals sector, copper continued its consolidation patterns since it ascended to its all-time high at the beginning of this month when it marked its $10,724.50 per tonne resistance level. This week, it corrected to below $10,500. Zinc recorded better performance this week when it exceeded its 35-month peak of $3,063.50 per tonne. Its surge was linked to concerns regarding tax increase on Peruvian and Chilean miners that impacted supply. Zinc settled on Friday at $2,945.50 per tonne. Nickel held at $17,326 on Friday after starting the week at $17,523 per tonne. Lead traded slightly upward, beginning Monday at $2,181,50 per tonne and ending the week at $2,202.50, charting an increase of 11% in its value.

Energy and Oil

Oil is facing its biggest weekly correction since March after it charted three days of major losses. It recovered some lost area on Friday after it followed commodities in a broad sell-off on Friday. The IEA released its Net-Zero report in the middle of the week, announcing that in order to reach net zero, no new oil, gas, and coal projects shall be undertaken. This announcement is likely to have an impact on how investors regard to the future price of oil. The report was not given much credence by Asian players, however. Japanese officials regarded the EIA report as merely one of the suggestions as to how the world may reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, but it is not binding upon Japan which has its own energy policies. Philippine officials likewise considered foregoing any additional investment in fossil fuels a development setback that it will not abide by. The OPEC also reacted, commenting that the mandatory stop to new oil and gas investments post 2021 contrasts dramatically with the conclusions reached by other IEA reports. As such it could be the catalyst for potential instability in the oil markets if the new mandate will be followed by investors.

Natural Gas

In the natural gas industry, Qatar is cornering the market by ramping up liquid natural gas supply and reducing its prices, in effect causing a halt to LNG projects in other areas. The expansion plans of the country are significantly large that Qatar, currently the top LNG producer in the world with the lowest cost, may render other producers insignificant or unnecessary. Qatar took this aggressive move due to the threat posed on it by the US as LNG producer in the past year.

For the report week (Wednesday, May 12 to Wednesday, May 19), natural gas spot prices moved sideways. The Henry Hub spot price dipped from $2,90 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on May 12 to $2.88/MMBtu on May 19. The price of the New York Mercantile Exchange June 2021 contract remained at the same level for the week at $2,964/MMBtu. The 12-month strip price averaging June 2021 through May 2022 futures contracts increased to $3.025/MMBtu, registering an increase of $0.02/MMBtu.

World Markets

European shares surged on indications that the economy is on the road to recovery as the coronavirus restrictions are gradually lifted. Worries remain, however, about the rise in inflation rates. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index grew 0.43% during the weeks’ trading. The region’s major indices were mixed. The Italian FTSE MIB Index rose slightly, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German Xetra DAX Index remained unchanged. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index receded 0.36% as the British currency gained over the U.S. dollar on the back of strong economic reports. The core eurozone bond yields closed higher on speculations that the European Central Bank will likely slow its bond purchases. UK gilt yields dropped on worries that a new coronavirus strain is spreading, thus potentially delaying the UK economy’s full recovery.

In Japan, the stock exchange ended the trading week higher with the broader TOPIX Index up 1.13% but the narrower Nikkei 223 Index returning 0.83%. The economic data report showed mixed results. Japan’s GDP shrunk more than had been anticipated for the first quarter of the year. On the other hand, export growth for April was strong, together with the manufacturers’ business confidence which rallied to its highest level since May 2018. Falling slightly was the yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond that ended at 0.08%. The yen gained strength to close the trading week at JPY 108.66 to the US dollar. In the meantime, Chinese stocks moved sideways on listless trading. Dropping by 1% was the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, even as the large-cap CSI 300 Index increased by 0.5% in what appears to be a recovery from the decline of its growth stocks in recent weeks. The yields on Chinese bonds fell in the fixed income market in reaction to the disappointing economic data report for April. The renminbi remained unchanged against the U.S. dollar for the week, keeping the gains it made since early April.  

The Week Ahead

Among the important reports to be released in the coming week are the GDP, building permits, and the Core PCE deflator reports.

Key Topics to Watch

  • CoreLogic Case-Schiller national home price index (12-month change)
  • Consumer confidence index
  • New home sales (SAAR)
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • GDP revision (seasonally adjusted annual rate)
  • Durable goods orders
  • Nondefense capital goods, excluding aircraft
  • Pending home sales index
  • Personal income
  • Consumer spending
  • Core inflation
  • Trade in goods deficit, advance report
  • Chicago PMI
  • Consumer sentiment index (final)

Markets Index Wrap Up

Weekly Market Review – May 15, 2021

Stock Markets

The markets were set off in a new wave of volatility after the weaker-than-expected April jobs report released the previous Friday. The Labor Department reported on Wednesday that core consumer prices (that did not include food and energy) surged by 0.9% in April, the highest in almost 40 years and approximately three times analysts’ expectations. The headline consumer price index (CPI) also exceeded the forecasted 3.6%, registering a 4.2% increase for the 12 months to April. On Thursday, the reported producer prices exceeded expectations by almost two times, rising 0.6%.  The sudden increase in the inflation rate, which remained unchanged for ten years, renewed investor concerns about an overheating economy.  The S&P 500 lost 4% from its record high in early May, recovering slightly before the week’s end. Observed weakness appeared to be concentrated in high-growth and technology stocks.

U.S. Economy

While economists and investors expected the increase in CPI, the size of the jump was significantly above expectations. It is possible, however, that pandemic-related factors accounted for some of the increase in prices, somewhat mitigating concerns about the eventuality of runaway inflation. Prices are moving higher partly due to shortages in supply and the sudden increase in demand as the economy reopens further. If this were the main reason, then the CPI increase is likely to be temporary and will soon return to normal.

  • Presently, the imbalance between demand and supply that is pushing prices higher is partially due to market distortions caused by the pandemic response. However, as the economy gradually opens, goods and services are seen to gradually increase to satisfy pent-up demand. This is a temporary situation that, in due time, is expected to normalize, reducing the inflationary pressure.
  • Reports of high inflation rate may continue to cause volatility in the stock market, but the bull market remains intact since the economy is still reopening. Cyclical sectors and value-based investments may continue to benefit from the faster economic growth, even as long-term rates are subjected to upward pressure.
  • There are two main drivers of the prices of goods and services. The first is the base effect. Base figures measured in April, May, and June 2020 were obtained at the height of the pandemic lockdowns. Due to the depressed base rates, the growth rates currently read in the high levels, not because the prices are escalating quickly, but because the prices they are compared to last year are extraordinarily low. The second reason may be traced to supply shortages and bottlenecks in manufacturing systems. There are widespread materials shortages due to supply chain disruptions, resulting in limited productions that still have to reach cost-efficient levels. Four factors contribute to the supply chain disturbances: the rapid rebound in demand, the shift in consumer spending patterns towards goods, lean inventories, and compliance with temporary covid-safety protocols.

Metals and Mining

The increase in gold prices that have materialized at the beginning of May continues to the present. Gold prices remain around the $1,840 per ounce trading range. The price increase was principally due to a reduction in the value of the US dollar. Thereafter, rising inflation and the possible surge in interest rates triggered investor concerns that tempered any further rally in the price of gold. For the week, gold remained flat; viewing it from a longer-term perspective, it already has risen by 6.6% from its March 1 price of $1,724.80. When compared to prices at the beginning of the year, however, gold prices remain down. As of last Friday, gold traded at $1,839.16.

The other precious metals are also maintaining their present consolidation. Silver neared $28 per ounce at the beginning of the week, then corrected to $26.75 on Thursday, close to its support at $26. It could still consolidate further towards the $23 range before it may find sustained momentum that may bring it back to the $30 to $32 price range in the coming months. It is possible that in the long-term, silver may once more test the $50 resistance seen in 1980 and 2011. Friday saw silver at $27.37. Other precious metals are Platinum that opened at a 60-day high of $1,269 per ounce, and palladium which likewise began the trading week at an all-time high of $2,908 per ounce. By Friday, platinum settled at $1,212 and palladium at $2,790.

The base metals took the opposite direction, trading down for the week. Copper fell by $471 despite initially trading at an all-time high. It pulled back to $10,253 per tonne and settled at $10,253.50 on Friday. The drop was seen as a much-needed correction, while the underlying market sentiment remains bullish. Zinc initially lost 4.8% during the week to recover to the $2,990 per tonne range where it remained on Friday. Nickel also suffered a correction that landed it at $17,180 per tonne on Friday. Lead also opened lower on Monday at $2,228.50 and closed Friday at 2,116. Lead and zinc will continue to consolidate for the year since last year’s surplus of these metals are expected to carry over through 2021.

Energy and Oil

After a selloff in the middle of the past week, oil prices rebounded on Friday as uncertainties continue to prevail concerning whether the market will resume a bearish or bullish direction. Brent crude continues to trade in the upper $60s range. The Colonial Pipeline, whose operations were interrupted by a suspected online hacking episode, restarted its product flows by midweek. In time, the present localized shortages are expected to eventually ease. It was reported that the company paid the ransom demanded by the hackers, but on Friday the operator of the ransomware Darkside announced that they had lost control of the servers as well as a portion of the ransom payout. It should be recalled that the shutdown of the operations of the Colonial Pipeline was the cause of the supply shortage and surge of gasoline prices.

The oil price drop on Thursday was caused by concerns about the increase in inflation rates. While the rise in inflation may drive the price of crude to higher levels, investor fears of weaker economic growth tend to pull down commodities and undercut rising prices. On Friday, however, oil prices recovered as it became evident the fuel supply shortage was temporary. In the meantime, Europe faces the likelihood of uncertain gas prices. Carbon prices are bound to test the upper limit and the EU carbon emissions policy will continue to tighten. Coal will likely be on its way out but natural gas remains under increased pressure.

Natural Gas

During this report week (May 5 to May 12), natural gas spot prices were mixed. The Henry Hub spot price slid from $2.97 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the start of the week’s trading, to end the week at $2.90/MMBtu. The price of the June 2021 contract rose by $0.03 at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), finishing at $2.969/MMBtu on Wednesday, May 12, from $2.938/MMBtu one week before. The price of the 12-month strip averaging June 2021 through May 2022 futures contracts rose to $3.001/MMBtu, up by $0.02/MMBtu. The composite price for the natural gas plant liquids at Mont Belvieu, Texas slid by $0.16/MMBtu, thereby averaging $7.50/MMBtu for the trading week ending May 12. This resulted from a decline in propane prices by about 7%, thus causing the average index price to descend week over week.

World Markets

Share prices in European stock exchanges corrected in tandem with global markets. The correction was in response to signs that inflation is ramping up which in turn triggered fears of impending interest rate increases.  The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index closed the trading week lower by 0.54%. The major indices in the region were mixed. Italy’s FTSE MIB gained 0.63%, while the UK’s FTSE 100 fell 1.21%. France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s Xetra DAX remained relatively unchanged. The pullback of the UK index was partly due to the appreciation of the British pound against the U.S. dollar, resulting from the victory of the ruling Conservative Party in the local election. The negative correlation between the FTSE 100 Index and the value of the pound is driven by the presence of multinationals that generate revenue from abroad in the index listing. Core eurozone bonds are up in tandem with U.S. Treasury yields, due to the higher-than-expected U.S. inflation rate reported during the week.

In Asia, Japan’s stock markets fell dramatically for the week as volatility set in as a result of the unexpected and sharp increase in the US consumer price index. The spike in covid infection rates in the country and the possibility that a state of emergency will be announced in an additional three prefectures further tempered investor appetite. The broad TOPIX Index descended 2.57% while the Nikkei 225 slumped 4.43%. The 10-year Japanese government bond yield reacted by rising to 0.09%; commensurately, the yen softened marginally to end the week at JPY 109.41 to the U.S. dollar. The recovering economy is showing signs of life, however, as consumer demand registered a strong rebound from the deep slump brought about by the pandemic in the past year. Household spending increased in March by 6.2% year-on-year, in a robust reversal of the 6.6% drop in February.

China stocks, on the other hand, surged for the week as the benchmark Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rose 2.1%, simultaneous with the 2.3% increase in the large-cap CSI 300 Index. China’s sovereign 10-year bond yield closed the week unchanged at 3.17% in response to the mixed economic reports. Net inflows of $9 billion in China’s government bonds were reported for April. This development is in line with Beijing’s interest in attracting foreign investments into its domestic “green bond” market, intended to support the country’s push towards renewable energy and other environmentally sustainable projects. The renminbi rose against the U.S. dollar by 0.3%, ending the week at 6.434 per dollar.

The Week Ahead

Over the coming week, look forward to the release of important economic data that includes the PMI index and existing home sales.

Key Topics to Watch

  • Empire State manufacturing index
  • NAHB home builders’ index
  • Building permits
  • Housing starts
  • FOMC minutes
  • Initial jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Continuing jobless claims (regular state program)
  • Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index
  • Index of leading economic indicators
  • Markit manufacturing PMI (flash)
  • Markit services PMI (flash)
  • Existing home sales

Markets Index Wrap Up

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