Spring Is In the Air
March was a little choppy in the markets, but equities made progress. The U.S. economy showed resiliency in light of higher interest rates and inflationary pressures. It is fitting that Spring is upon us - which gives us new flowers and green plants after months of a harsh winter. We're seeing the same in terms of both the U.S. economy and the fight against COVID.
The economic news was positive overall, especially with the March Jobs Report on Good Friday last week. More than 900k new jobs were added in March, though the market was expecting north of only 600k. February's job increase was revised higher by almost 90,000. Manufacturing data was positive and continued to show economic expansion. While private jobs (ADP Report) disappointed, March's numbers were still higher than February's by more than 300,000. Vehicle Sales showed the highest monthly gain (+17.7 mil) since January of 2018! Housing is taking a breather with higher mortgage rates, but overall, the data was good last week.
Progress continues on the virus front. Vaccinations in the U.S. have jumped to almost 3.1 million shots administered daily. So far, 106 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose. This is causing the fatality and hospitalization rates to plummet. Daily Deaths from COVID hit their lowest mark (270) since March of 2020. Seniors, the highest risk group, are approaching 50% vaccination in almost all states. Those vaccinated, plus those who have already been infected, are getting us closer to herd immunity.
Daily activity is getting closer to normal as more states continue to open. Hotel Occupancy, Seated Diners, and TSA Traffic are within 40-15% of pre-pandemic levels. This will cause investors to rehash the debate on inflation. On Friday of this week, we get the March Producer Price Index (PPI), which will give us a glimpse of inflationary pressures on producers. However, the recovery is steadily approaching pre-pandemic levels.
Click below to see this week's Market Recap.