Equities came under pressure this week as the anticipated stimulus pop failed to materialize. The S&P 500 was down 2.1% on the week, but there was significant dispersion with many popular stocks down much more.
A big economic number this week was the Retail Sales report for February. The decline of 3% comes after a strong January number of 7.6%. The decline, which was larger than expected, could be a function of more moderate sales after January’s bump from the second round of stimulus checks.
Equities bounced back this week with the S&P 500 advancing 2.1%. Focus continues to be on the outperformance of stocks with lower valuations. The NASDAQ continues to underperform amid big swings in intra-day volatility.
Inflation has become the central topic in financial markets given its linkages to both bond and equity prices. It is also one of the most controversial and difficult-to-understand concepts. The Federal Reserve’s own model has been inaccurate for decades and they are now acknowledging this as they change their working assumptions.
Orders for durable goods in January, a leading economic indicator, were up by 3.4%. This is the ninth month in a row the index is up. The increase was led by transportation orders, up eight of the last nine months.