Weekly Economic Update: January 3, 2021

The Markets (as of market close December 31, 2021)

The last week of 2021 saw stocks close generally higher, with only the Nasdaq slipping lower. The Dow ended the week up 1.1%, followed by the S&P 500, the Global Dow, and the Russell 2000. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is generally marked by thin trading, and last week was no exception. Most of the market sectors closed the week in the black, led by real estate, utilities, materials, and consumer staples. Ten-year Treasury yields inched higher, crude oil prices rose $1.66 per barrel, while the dollar dipped lower.


Last Week’s Economic News

  • The international trade in goods deficit expanded by $14.6 billion, or 17.5%, in November.
  • The national average retail price for regular gasoline was $3.275 per gallon on December 27, $0.020 per gallon less than the prior week’s price but $1.032 higher than a year ago. Gasoline production increased during the week ended December 24, averaging 10.1 million barrels per day. U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.7 million barrels per day during the week ended December 24 — 124,000 barrels per day less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 89.7% of their operable capacity, 0.1 percentage point below the prior week’s rate of capacity.
  • For the week ended December 25, there were 198,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s level. According to the Department of Labor, the advance rate for insured unemployment claims for the week ended December 18 was 1.3%, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s rate. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended December 18 was 1,716,000, a decrease of 140,000 from the prior week’s level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since March 7, 2020, when it was 1,715,000. During the last week of February 2020 (pre-pandemic), there were 219,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance, and the number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits was 1,724,000. States and territories with the highest insured unemployment rates for the week ended December 11 were Alaska (3.1%), California (2.7%), Puerto Rico (2.7%), the Virgin Islands (2.5%), New Jersey (2.4%), Illinois (2.3%), Minnesota (2.3%), Hawaii (2.0%), Massachusetts (1.8%), and Nevada (1.8%).


Eye on the Week Ahead

There is plenty of important economic data available this week, beginning with the purchasing managers’ manufacturing survey. The manufacturing sector gained traction for much of 2021, only to be sidetracked somewhat by labor shortages and supply chain constrictions. The week ends with the December jobs report. Employment rose by 210,000 in November, well below the monthly average of 550,000.


Have a nice week!





Robert G. Carpenter

President & CEO
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors