The Markets (as of market close December 17, 2021)
Omicron, escalating prices, and the tightening of monetary policy by central banks in the United States and around the world took center stage last week. The prospect of higher interest rates in 2022 could make it less appealing to own riskier investments. All of the stock market indexes ended the week in the red, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq taking the biggest hit. Ten-year Treasury yields fell 8 basis points, and the price of gold increased, as some investors took a more defensive stance. The dollar rose and crude oil prices fell, albeit slightly.
Worries about the fast-spreading COVID-19 variant caused U.S. stocks to fall back from a record high on Monday. The Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 led the retreat, both falling 1.4%, while the S&P 500 and the Dow fell 0.9%. The Global Dow was flat. Ten-year Treasury yields dropped to close at 1.42%, and crude oil prices declined slightly, while the dollar advanced. The market sectors were also mixed, with real estate, utilities, and consumer staples showing strength, while energy, consumer discretionary, and information technology lagged.
Stocks dropped again last Tuesday, as a larger-than-expected jump in producer prices caused investors to fret about the potential for more aggressive Fed action against inflation. The Nasdaq posted the largest loss (-1.1%), followed by the Russell 2000 (-1.0%), the S&P 500 (-0.8%), the Dow (-0.3%), and the Global Dow (-0.2%).
On Wednesday, news that a more hawkish Federal Reserve now expects to wind down stimulus and raise interest rates more rapidly than previously thought was well received by investors. Each of the benchmark indexes posted gains, led by the Nasdaq, which bounced back 2.2%. The Russell 2000 gained 1.7%, followed by the S&P 500 (1.6%), the Dow (1.1%), and the Global Dow (0.3%). The 10-year Treasury yield inched up to 1.46%.
A sharp drop in the shares of large technology companies dragged the U.S. stock market lower last Thursday. The Nasdaq dropped 2.5%, marking the fourth consecutive day that prices swung more than 1% in either direction. The Russell 2000 (-2.0%), the S&P 500 (-0.9%), and the Dow (-0.1%) also fell, while the Global Dow rose (1.0%).
Equities generally closed lower after a volatile week on Friday. The Russell 2000 stood out by posting a 1.0% gain. The Dow declined 1.5%, followed by the S&P 500 (-1.0%) and the Global Dow (-0.9%). The Nasdaq was flat. Treasury yields dipped, crude oil prices dropped, and the dollar advanced. All of the market sectors lost ground, with financials (-2.3%) and energy (-2.2%) tumbling the furthest.
Eye on the Week Ahead
In consideration of the Christmas-New Year holidays next week, several important economic reports are available this week. The final report on third-quarter gross domestic product is available this week. The economy advanced at an annualized rate of 2.1%, according to the second estimate. November data on sales of new and existing homes is also out this week. October proved to be a good month for the housing sector, although residential sales may curtail a bit in November. The personal income and outlays report is also out, albeit a week earlier than normal. According to the previous report, prices at the consumer level have risen 5.0% for the 12 months ended in October.
Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI, Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e., wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Forecasts are based on current conditions, subject to change, and may not come to pass. U.S. Treasury securities are guaranteed by the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. The principal value of Treasury securities and other bonds fluctuates with market conditions. Bonds are subject to inflation, interest-rate, and credit risks. As interest rates rise, bond prices typically fall. A bond sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 largest, publicly traded companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. The U.S. Dollar Index is a geometrically weighted index of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to six foreign currencies. Market indexes listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.