Are investors accepting the Federal Reserve’s hawkish path to reduce inflation? Last week’s market performance may lend credence to that possibility, as each of the benchmark stock indexes posted solid gains, reversing three weeks of losses. A jump in tech shares pushed the Nasdaq up to its highest level since late August. The S&P 500 passed its 100-day average, and the Russell 2000 added more than 4.0%. The dollar dipped lower, moving away from a record high. Gold prices increased. Crude oil prices decreased for the second consecutive week. There have been few signs that the aggressive interest-rate hike agenda pushed by the Fed will hinder the economy, possibly easing investor worries.
Last Week’s Economic News
- According to the latest report the S&P Global US Services PMI™ revealed that business activity in the services sector in August contracted at its sharpest pace since May 2020. Weak domestic and foreign demand stunted new orders, which led to the softest rate of hiring in the services sector since January. Input and output cost inflation eased to the slowest rate in a year and a half.
- The goods and services trade deficit for July declined by $10.2 billion, or 12.6%, from June. A marginal (0.2%) increase in exports was outpaced by a 2.9% drop in imports. Year to date, the goods and services deficit increased by $136.6 billion, or 29.0%, from the same period in 2021. Exports increased 19.9%, while imports increased 22.1%.
- The national average retail price for regular gasoline was $3.746 per gallon on September 5, $0.081 per gallon below the prior week’s price but $0.570 higher than a year ago. Also as of September 5, the East Coast price decreased $0.109 to $3.613 per gallon; the Gulf Coast price fell $0.127 to $3.229 per gallon; the Midwest price dropped $0.037 to $3.638 per gallon; the West Coast price slid $0.042 to $4.741 per gallon; and the Rocky Mountain price fell $0.080 to $3.940 per gallon. Residential heating oil prices averaged $3.578 per gallon on September 2, about $0.430 per gallon less than the prior week’s price.
- For the week ended September 3, there were 222,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised down by 4,000. According to the Department of Labor, the advance rate for insured unemployment claims for the week ended August 27 was 1.0%, unchanged from the previous week’s rate. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended August 27 was 1,473,000, an increase of 36,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised down by 1,000.
Eye on the Week Ahead
Several important indicators of inflation are out this week with the August releases of the Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index, and the report on import and export prices. Each of these indicators showed that inflation subsided in July with the CPI registering no change, while producer prices fell 0.5%, import prices dipped 1.4%, and export prices slid 3.3%. Similar data for August may influence the Federal Reserve to scale back its current aggressive economic tightening policy.
Have a nice week!