The indexes all finished higher last week on the hopes of Moderna reporting a promising phase 1 of the Covid vaccine. Fed Chairman Powell also said the Fed has more tools to support the economy. Markets fell on news of renewed tension with China. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 3.3%, S&P 3.2%, and Nasdaq 3.4%. Dow’s biggest week since April 9.
The U.S. death toll passed 95,000. Cases passed 1.5 million. Despite the rising cases, more states re-opened. Another 2.4 million applied for unemployment claims last week. Again, it is bad news, but not as bad as the prior week. Which means improvement, and closer to a state of recovery. Typically, the average level of initial claims for a month peaks two months before the economy hits bottom. April looks like it was the highest month for initial claims, which signals an economic bottom should come in June. Millions fell behind on their mortgages.
Air traffic is up. The number of passengers passing through TSA checkpoints rose to 267,451 this past Sunday, versus a Sunday low of 90,510 on April 12, a near tripling of passenger activity. Yes, this past Sunday was a holiday weekend, but last Sunday (May 17) was already up 180% from the low. And in Congress, the House passed another stimulus bill, which the Senate shut down. Long story short, we still do not know what the future holds. Economic reporting is ugly, earnings reports are awful, and there is no forward guidance to stand on.
Holiday shortened week, but plenty of economic reports to give insight into the strength of recovery. Along with continued weekly jobless claims, April new home sales reports and mortgage applications.
The recession started in March and is the deepest since the Great Depression. However, it may also be the shortest. A full recovery is a long way off. We won’t see the level of real GDP we had in late 2019 again until late 2021. We might not see an unemployment rate below 4.0% until 2024. With every passing day, the lockdowns take an increasing toll; the sooner they end, the better. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 14.3%, S&P down 8.5%, and Nasdaq up 4.0%.
Have a safe week!
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