Hello and welcome to this week’s Jones Financial Blog! Our goal at Jones & Associates is to help keep you up to date with interesting current economic/market happenings as well as some proprietary portfolio happenings. Knowledge is power and thought we would share some of ours with you. Enjoy!
All data is for the week ended April 16, 2021.
Major indices around the world rose last week, the fourth consecutive week that the key U.S. indices recorded gains. The S&P 500 increased 1.39%, the NASDAQ added 1.10% and the Russell 2000 rose 0.86%. Overseas, the international developed markets (MSCI EAFE) gained 1.67% as the emerging markets (MSCI EM) increased 1.41%. The best performing sectors in the U.S. were utilities and materials while communication services and energy were the laggards. (1)
Bond prices rose and yields fell with the 10-year treasury down 8 basis points to 1.59%. Rates fell despite higher than expected inflation, likely due to overseas bond investors seeking a safer haven. Also, the Federal Reserve vice chair stated that the Fed will be combing wage and price increases along with productivity before determining its next steps. His inflation expectations index is still below the Fed’s 2% long term goal. (2)
Oil prices rose following a report from the Energy Information Administration that U.S. crude inventories fell by 5.9 million barrels for the week ended April 9. (3) This was a much greater decline than the consensus forecast for a decline of 2.9 million barrels for crude stocks, raising prices. The price of West Texas crude rose 6.52% for the week to $63.19 per barrel. (4)
Retail sales for March climbed 9.8% from February and rose 27.7% on a year-over-year basis. That was ahead of the 6% monthly rate the consensus had expected as spending was boosted by the latest round of government stimulus checks and the vaccine rollout. The report showed a reversal from February when retail sales fell 2.7%, worse than expected. Excluding gasoline and auto sales, retail sales were up 8.2% last month (versus expectations for a 5% gain) led by sporting goods, apparel and food service. (5)
The retail sales data come at the same time as upbeat news on the employment front. Initial jobless claims decreased 193,000 to 576,000 in the latest week, the lowest level since the start of the pandemic. (6)
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.6% in March or 2.6% on an annual basis for the highest rate in 30 months. After excluding volatile food and energy, core inflation was up 1.6% for the last 12 months. (7) Prices for imported goods climbed 6.9% over the past 12 months for the fastest pace in 11 years after having fallen during the early phases of the pandemic. Fuel was also major driver of the higher import prices; prices minus fuel rose 3.8% over the past year. (8)
Proprietary portfolio happenings:
Company News (9)
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST), a Contrarian Choice and Core Select holding, increased its quarterly dividend by 12.8%. Yield on the new rate is 0.85%. Shares rose 2.1% for the week. (10)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), a G50 holding, delayed the rollout of their COVID vaccine in Europe and paused vaccinations in the U.S. while they update guidance for the CDC and FDA investigators following a report of 6 U.S. cases of a very rare and severe blood clot (out of 6.8 million administered). Shares were up 0.6% for the week. (11)
LCI Industries (LCII), a G33 holding, pre-announced revenue growth of 50%, exceeding analyst expectations, due to a very strong year in the recreational vehicle industry and outdoor recreation space. Shares rose 5.8% for the week. (12)
Procter & Gamble (PG), a G50 holding, announced a 10% dividend hike. P&G has raised its dividend for 65 straight years and has paid a dividend for the past 131 consecutive years. The yield on the new rate is 2.54%. Shares rose 0.6% for the week. (13)
UnitedHealth Group (UNH), a Core Select holding, reported revenue and earnings that were ahead of expectations and raised earnings guidance for the full year. Shares rose 3.9% for the week. (14)
Did You Know? Ancient Babylonians did math in base 60 instead of base 10. That is why we have 60 seconds in a minute and 360 degrees in a circle.
(9) All weekly changes in company stock prices: Yahoo Finance