Market Event, General

Week in Review: America's market data in the spotlight

Annie Charalambous, Friday, 19 March 2021

As we reflect on a year of lockdown(s), across the pond, the Dow Jones surged to a new all-time high while the Nasdaq index plummeted; Disney announced Disneyland's reopening in April, and Nike shares dropped after posting its latest earnings.

Let's take a closer look at the markets that moved.

FOMC foresees near-zero rates until late 2023

In Wednesday's FOMC meeting, the Fed shared revised forecasts for 2021 and committed to keeping interest rates low until the economy turns around. It expects GDP to grow 6.5% this year, compared to their previous 4.2% expectation shared in December.

The central bank also forecasts the unemployment rate to fall to 4.5% (previously 5%) but inflation to sit at 2.4%, though they expect that to be short-lived.

According to the US Treasury's findings, published the same day, over 90 million checks to the tune of $242 billion have already been issued under Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue plan; this is the country's third round of stimulus payments since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

The good, the bad, and the rest

US data was a mixed bag this week. Retail Sales declined 3% in February – a significant drop from January's (revised) 7.6% rise. Initial jobless Claims were 10% higher than expected, at 770k for the previous week. Oil inventories were slightly lower than expected, at 2.396 million barrels, radically lower than the combined 35 million reported in the previous two weeks.

The Philly Fed published its monthly Manufacturing Index – a reading of 51.8, up from the previous month's 23.1 – the highest on record since the early ‘70s. With activity in the region now at a 50-year high, 59% of the businesses surveyed reported a spike, while only 7% reported a decline in business activity. Other findings in the survey include a shortage in skilled labour, with 45% of surveyed firms having had jobs open for three months or longer. Read the full report here.

Movers & shakers

🔺 Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) soared over 19% Thursday on the news of a $23 billion takeover by Chubb. Get the full story over at The Financial Times

🔻 Square (SQ) fell 9% Thursday after its Director sold 200,000 shares. Read more at MarketBeat

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