Stocks began the week on a downturn but rallied later to end last week higher. All of the major benchmark stock indexes posted solid weekly gains, led by the Russell 2000, followed by the Nasdaq, the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Global Dow. Traders began the week concerned that the debt ceiling agreement between President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy would not pass the House and Senate. However, both chambers of Congress passed the debt ceiling bill later in the week, removing the risk of government default. In addition, investors may have been encouraged by a strong jobs report (see below), which is somewhat paradoxical as a strong labor market could support more interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, Wall Street ended the week on a positive note. The Nasdaq rose for the sixth consecutive week, the longest weekly winning streak since January 2020. Despite a surge last Thursday and Friday, crude oil prices ended the week lower. The yield on 10-year Treasuries slipped lower, while the dollar changed little. Gold prices advanced nearly 1.0%.
Last Week’s Economic News
The labor sector remained strong in May. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 339,000 new jobs added in May, in line with the average monthly gain of 341,000 over the prior 12 months. Despite the new hires, May saw the unemployment rate rise by 0.3 percentage point to 3.7%, and the number of unemployed persons increase by 440,000 to 6.1 million. The unemployment rate has ranged from 3.4% to 3.7% since March 2022. The labor force participation rate, at 62.6% has not changed over the past three months. The employment-population ratio dipped 0.1 percentage point to 60.3%. In May, average hourly earnings rose by $0.11, or 0.3%, to $33.44. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.3%. The average workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.3 hours in May.
The number of job openings edged up 358,000 to 10.1 million in April. Job openings increased in retail trade, health care and social assistance, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. In April, the number of hires changed little at 6.1 million. Total separations, which include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations, declined 286,000 to 5.7 million.
Manufacturing slowed in May after expanding in April. The S&P Global US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index™ posted 48.4 in May, down from 50.2 in April. A reading under 50 indicates contraction. A reduction in new orders and muted overall demand slowed manufacturing. Despite the regression in demand, manufacturers increased output and employment, partly to fulfill existing backlogs of work, and to take advantage of a reduction in input costs to manufacturers, which fell for the first time since May 2020.
The national average retail price for regular gasoline was $3.571 per gallon on May 29, $0.037 per gallon higher than the prior week’s price but $1.053 less than a year ago.
For the week ended May 27, there were 232,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised up by 1,000. According to the Department of Labor, the advance rate for insured unemployment claims for the week ended May 20 was 1.2%, unchanged from the previous week’s rate. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended May 20 was 1,795,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised down by 5,000.
Eye on the Week Ahead
There is very little economic data available during the first full week of June. The services purchasing managers’ index for May is available. April saw growth in the services sector, with new orders posting their best rate of growth since May 2022. Also, out this week is the report on international trade in goods and services for April. March saw the trade deficit narrow by about $64.0 billion, as both imports and exports edged higher.
Have a nice week!