Last week, stocks finished higher after mostly solid economic data, including labor numbers that showed steady progress. Since the 10-year Treasury yield rally began in August 2020, there have been two main consolidation periods. What might be the next catalyst for a move in interest rates? The S&P 500 Index closed within 3 points of its all-time closing high of 4,232.60. Last week all indexes finished up slightly; Dow up 0.69%, S&P 0.64%, and Nasdaq 0.49%.
The S&P 500 Index gained 0.64% last week, closing within 3 points of its all-time closing high of 4,232.60. The index has steadily climbed back after hitting its mid-May lows as inflation fears weighed on the index with consumer discretionary and information technology taking the biggest hits. Investors have continued to digest inflation concerns against their expectations for the equities markets. Stocks levitated higher by less than 1% for the week after mostly solid economic data, including labor numbers that showed steady, if not overwhelming, progress. Treasury yields fell after the May non-farm payrolls report came in at a solid gain of 559,000. This was much higher than the 266K the previous month, but lower than the expected 675K.
This led to Friday’s rally with data conveying an improving employment picture in the U.S. recovery. The recovery may be slower than expected. Leading markets to assume the Federal Reserve will continue in its accommodative monetary policies. Nearly half the states have cut overly generous jobless benefits, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% in May versus 6.1% in April, and average hourly earnings are up 2.0% versus a year ago. Initial jobless claims fell for the 5th week in a row to 385,000.
The expectation of a quicker recovery in global demand for crude oil helped it advance 4.98% last week, closing at $69.62 per barrel on Friday. This propelled the energy sector be the top performer of the week. OPEC agreed to continue gradually easing production cuts.
The Week Ahead
Since the 10-year Treasury yield rally began in August 2020, there have been two main consolidation periods. The first came just below 1%, beginning in November 2020 to January 2021. The second began in April 2021 and continues today, with the yield currently near 1.56%. The next catalyst? Last week the Federal Reserve said that it plans to start selling its portfolio of corporate bonds and exchange-traded funds that it bought during the pandemic. This is not expected to influence the market much. Recent economic data has been encouraging. But not so strong that the Fed would consider tapering its bond buying just yet.
The next Fed meeting is scheduled for June 15-16. This week offers an update on U.S. inflation along with 10-year and 30-year bond auctions, all of which could produce interest rate volatility. The U.S. trade balance came out today, and consumer sentiment on Friday. The week closes with day 1 of the G7 meetings in London, where Treasury Secretary Yellen looks for support to rewrite international tax rules. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 13.56%, S&P up 12.62% 6.8%, and Nasdaq up 7.19% through the close on Friday.
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