U.S. Economy Gains Momentum – WEEKLY UPDATE – JUNE 22, 2020

The Week on Wall Street
Stocks moved higher last week on news of more Federal Reserve market support and diminished concerns that new COVID-19 cases might lead to another economic shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.04%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 1.86%. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 3.73% for the week. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, increased 1.88%.[1][2][3]

Investor Sentiment
News on Monday that the Fed would be expanding its bond-buying program to include the debt of individual companies sparked a sharp jump in stocks. The momentum gained through the week as investors focused on positive economic signals, especially with retail sales. A midweek report of an effective COVID-19 treatment for critically ill patients boosted investor optimism.

Market sentiment also was helped by talk of more fiscal stimulus and a report that China would be moving ahead with agricultural purchases to comply with phase one of the trade deal, easing concerns over growing friction in the U.S.-China relationship.

Mixed Economic Data
Last week’s economic data illustrated the uneven nature of the nation’s nascent economic recovery.

Retail sales, which were up by 17.7% in May, reflected a strong, encouraging rebound in the U.S. consumer. Consumer spending was particularly strong in clothing, furniture, sporting goods, and autos.[4][5]

But industrial production (up by only 1.4%) and new housing starts (ahead by just 4.3%) showed tepid rebounds, indicating that recovery has yet to reach all corners of the American economy. Jobless claims posted their best number since mid-March (1.5 million), but remained high by historical standards.[6][7][8]

Final Thoughts
Last week saw the flare-up of border tensions in two geopolitical hotspots: North Korea and the disputed border region between China and India. The hope, of course, is that escalation can be avoided through diplomacy, but any heightening in tensions may become a concern for global markets.

[1] The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2020
[2] The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2020
[3] The Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2020
[4] The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2020
[5] The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2020
[6] MarketWatch, June 16, 2020
[7] CNBC, June 17, 2020
[8] The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2020