Time To Be Thankful During Crazy Year

Time to give thanks… U.S. equity indices ripped higher last week after Pfizer announced 90% effective rate in its COVID-19 vaccine. Major U.S. cities continue to tighten restrictions on activity as the holiday season approaches. The market continues to focus on vaccine optimism and in turn a “return to normal” for 2021. Last week’s cyclical rotation was huge. The question remains whether it can continue to drive the indices higher to the detriment of large-cap tech.

Last Week

U.S. equity indices finished higher after Pfizer announced 90% effective in its COVID-19 vaccine. Uncertainty created by the rotation from growth to value kept investors on edge. Despite record daily corona virus cases in the U.S., the S&P 500 led the advance, while the Nasdaq, or stay at home trade, fell slightly. According to EPFR Global, global stock funds tallied the largest inflows ($44.5 billion) in at least 20 years. Last week the indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 4.19%, S&P up 2.21%, and Nasdaq down 0.53%.

Week Ahead

Market movement has confined to two lanes. Strong yet narrow index gains, supported by large-cap tech. Or fairly flat indices, divided between surging cyclical’s and weak stay at home. Waves of fear seem to come and go. Major U.S. cities continue to tighten restrictions on activity as the holiday season approaches. So far, the market continues to focus on vaccine optimism and in turn a “return to normal” for 2021. Last week’s cyclical rotation was tectonic. The question remains whether it can continue to drive the indices higher to the detriment of large-cap tech. A lesson in index mythology might help investors’ insomnia. Stimulus expectations have dramatically tempered in recent weeks.

The improving labor market data and positive medical advancements on COVID-19 treatment provide a headwind to hopes for a new relief bill. Still, small businesses and millions of Americans are struggling dearly, so one might expect leaders to meet in the middle on some relief efforts in the coming weeks. On the data front, U.S. retail sales are a key event. Results this morning were down, but better than expected. Housing data is expected to remain robust. While unemployment claims are likely to come in steady around 700,000. As of last week, over 21 million Americans were claiming benefits across all U.S. programs.

So why should we give thanks? The US economy continues to heal. Payrolls keep growing, unemployment claims – though still elevated – are shrinking, key measures of the manufacturing and service sectors remain well into positive territory, and, as this week should show, both retail sales and industrial production remain on an upward trajectory. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 3.3%, S&P up 10.97%, and Nasdaq up 31.84% through the close last Friday.

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